India's FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Martins earns call-up; Brandon, Sahal, Chhetri return

The Indian squad will leave for Doha today evening and will play three matches in June against host Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Igor Stimac

The Indian football team will travel to Qatar by a special flight from Delhi before restarting its World Cup/Asian Cup qualification campaign after a break of nearly 18 months.   -  AIFF

Indian men's football team head coach Igor Stimac announced a 28-member squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Qatar. The Indian squad will leave for Doha on Wednesday evening and will play three matches in June.

As per the health protocol required to travel to Qatar, all the travelling players and staff are carrying negative test results from the RTPCR tests conducted in the last 48 hours. The players have been in a bio bubble at the team hotel from May 15 onwards.

Stimac was hoping of the team putting in “intense” sessions before its matches get underway.

“It’s not an ideal situation as we move ahead to the Qualifiers in June. Due to the pandemic, our National Camp which was slated to begin in Kolkata at the beginning of May had to get cancelled. The pandemic also robbed us of a friendly match in Dubai,” the coach said.

India’s Fixtures:

June 3: India vs Qatar (IST 10.30pm).
June 7: Bangladesh vs India (IST 7.30pm).
June 15: India vs Afghanistan (IST 7.30pm).

 

“However, we understand the magnitude of the situation, and it will be intense sessions in Doha to raise the tempo and try to get ready for the matches which starts with the one against the Asian Champions Qatar in Doha,” Stimac said.

India is scheduled to play Asian Champions Qatar on June 3, Bangladesh on June 7, and Afghanistan on June 15 with all three matches to be played at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha.

READ: India's football World Cup qualifying round matches postponed to June

Glan Martins is the only new face in the 28-member squad.

Captain Sunil Chhetri expressed his relief to get back into the National team set-up. “It’s such a relief to be back in the National team squad – after all, home is where the heart is. Personally, I am eagerly looking forward to being in Doha. The last time I was in Doha, I couldn’t be a part of the match against Qatar owing to illness,” Chhetri said.

“The matches in June are extremely tough and we need to take them one at a time. Given the fact that we don’t have much time, the preparatory camp will add immense value helping all to gel together, and strike that chord ahead of the first match,” he added.

“Doha has always had an emotional connection with me. It was there that I played in the 2011 Asian Cup, and also the AFC Cup final for my club Bengaluru FC.”

The matches are being played in Doha in view of the COVID pandemic situation which doesn’t allow the original format of home and away matches. India is currently on three points from three matches in Group E.

Squad:

GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh.

DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Narender Gehlot, Chinglensana Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Akash Mishra, Subhashish Bose.

MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco, Rowllin Borges, Glan Martins, Anirudh Thapa, Pronoy Halder, Suresh Singh, Lalengmawia Ralte, Abdul Sahal, Yasir Mohammad, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan.

FORWARDS: Ishan Pandita, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh.

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