The Blue Tigers will take on Oman and Qatar in their first two games in the round of qualifiers.

As the Indian national team continue their preparation for the first two FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Oman and Qatar, new head coach Igor Stimac has displayed his ruthlessness again by releasing six prominent senior players from his probable squad for the games.

The national team, which has been training in Goa for the past week, is being prepared to look the best against the two formidable opponents next month. As a result, Pronay Halder, Anwar Ali Jr. Jobby Justin, Farukh Choudhary, Jerry Lalrinzuala and Salam Ranjan Singh have all been released from the probables list after not being up to the mark in training.

Halder, one of the more experienced figures for India in recent years, comes as a major shock included in the list. However, there were doubts about his fitness levels ever since he suffered a few injuries following the AFC Asian Cup earlier this year. Justin, who made his national team debut in the Intercontinental Cup last month, has also been released.

Choudhary was often used as a substitute by the Croatian, as perhaps, his weakness whilst playing centrally as more of a striker has hurt his chances of making the final squad. Salam Ranjan’s exclusion also comes as a bit of a surprise, as he had started working hard to get into the squad and even played for ATK reserves in the Durand Cup in Kolkata earlier this month.

Lalrinzuala never really managed to impress under the Croatian, giving some defensively poor performances in the Intercontinental Cup and failing to provide that impetus going forward. Anwar Ali Jr. has also been released from the squad, as it becomes rather obvious that Stimac has penciled in Narender Galot as his go-to defender, alongside the experienced figureheads.

With just over two weeks remaining for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Stimac is working hard to prepare his side for the formidable battle ahead. After failing to impress in the Intercontinental Cup, in which India only picked up one draw from three games, the Blue Tigers need to tap into their utmost potential soon.

The tactician always regarded the Intercontinental Cup as a preparatory tournament and perhaps found his perfect starting XI in the course of the tournament. He’ll definitely aim to use his strongest, fittest players to rise up to the challenge in Guwahati and try to pick up a crucial win to get their FIFA World Cup qualififying campaign off to a positive start.

Here’s the current 28-member squad:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh, Vishal Kaith

Defenders: Rahul Bheke, Nishu Kumar, Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Narender Gahlot, Sarthak Golui, Adil Khan, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai

Midfielders: Nikhil Poojari, Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Amarjit Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Halicharan Narzary, Ashique Kuruniyan

Forwards: Balwant Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh