Indian team head coach Igor Stimac on Wednesday announced India's 26-member squad for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers against Afghanistan and Oman.
Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, whose performance under the woodwork during FIFA U17 World Cup India 2017 earned him praise, got his maiden call-up to the senior national team.
"Dheeraj is a player for the future. We have always trusted our youngsters and they have also shown their prowess on the pitch. Our first choice goalkeepers are Gurpreet and Amrinder and we have seen Kamaljit and Vishal too. Now we would like to see Dheeraj closely as he belongs to those we should rely on in the future," Stimac said in an official statement.
Dheeraj is the third player after Amarjit Singh and defender Anwar Ali, from the India U17 world cup squad, to get a call to the senior team. Ali has not made it to the qualifiers against Afghanistan and Oman.
Coach Stimac mentioned it was "not an easy task" to shortlist the players "given the healthy competition" in the team.
"I trust them and they know their responsibilities. After watching the league matches since they started, we have shortlisted these players. Some players who are not on the list also performed highly and came very close to getting selected," Stimac said.
"It's not going to be an easy task to select only a few players, given the healthy competition we have in each position. This is a good headache for us," he added.
Incidentally, the two back-to-back away fixtures would not be easy.
"But, we are professionals and we know how to take care of our bodies. How we travel, what we eat, how much we sleep is going to be very important," Sunil Chhetri said ahead of the two pivotal matches in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Defender Pritam Kotal said, "You can't complain about these because they're an integral part of modern-day football. Proper rest, diet and recovery are of utmost importance which needs to be taken care of."The 26-member squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Anas Edathodika, Narender, Adil Khan, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Seiminlen Doungel, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brandon Fernandes, Ashique Kuruniyan.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh.
India are scheduled to play against Afghanistan (Dushanbe -Tajikistan) and Oman (Muscat) on November 14 and 19 respectively.
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