India coach Igor Stimac ruled out Bengaluru FC (BFC) players Sivasakthi Narayanan and Suresh Singh Wangjam from the national team for the Intercontinental Cup and SAFF Championship 2023 in a virtual press conference today.
The Blue Tigers will play the Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar, starting June 9, before travelling to Bengaluru for the SAFF Championship.
The final squad for the two tournaments was announced on May 20, with Sivasakthi, the third-highest Indian goalscorer (6 goals) in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23, excluded.
When asked whether there is a chance for Sivasakthi to return, Stimac replied with a shake of his head.
“No, absolutely not. He (Sivasakthi) is an absolutely wonderful player who broke into the scene in the last ISL season,” he said.
“But suddenly, he had a minor injury which lowered his performance significantly and since then, he has not been at the level needed for the national team.”
The 22-year-old was BFC’s key striker last year when it won the Durand Cup for the first time, last year. Though an early injury in the ISL final saw him leave the field, he was pivotal for the Blues’ road to the final, with nine goal contributions (six goals, three assists).
“I used this chance (national camp) to have him with us, to meet the boy, and to find out more about his psychological profile, his character and I love everything about the boy.
He’s a great prospect for the future and might be a regular part of the team from September,” Stimac added.
For Suresh Singh, the story was very different. The 22-year-old midfielder was named in the final squad on May 20 but was later released after an injury.
“Five players had joined the camp with injuries (Manvir Singh, Vishal Kaith, Phurba Lachenpa, Glan Martins, Naorem Roshan Singh) and were released. Brandon (Fernandes) and Sana (Chinglesana Singh) were released at their own request.
The only player who suffered an injury during the camp was Suresh Singh and he was released only because he was not following instructions given during the training practice,” Stimac said.
India will begin its Intercontinental Cup campaign against Mongolia on June 9 and will later play Vanuatu and Lebanon, with all games to be played at the Kalinga Stadium.
“We’ll try various things (formations and tactics) here because these are perfect games to try and execute things that we did in training,” Stimac said.
Full India squad
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