Head coach Igor Stimac on Saturday (October 12) named a 23-member Indian football squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh to be played in Kolkata on Tuesday (October 15).
Defenders Sandesh Jhingan and Anwar Ali (Jr) were ruled out the match to be played at VYBK Stadium due to injuries, while Halicharan Narzary, Farukh Choudhary and Nishu Kumar did not make it to the final 23 and were released from the national camp here.
“Halicharan, Farukh and Nishu gave others a tough run for money and the decision was not an easy one. They came very close to their competitors. It was in fact a tough decision to take,” Stimac said.
Seasoned defensive bulwark Jhingan suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear on his left knee during the team’s 1-1 draw against Guwahati-based North East United in a friendly on Wednesday and he will undergo a surgery that may rule him out for six months.
“Sandesh has suffered on his left knee ACL tear and need to undergo surgery. It usually takes 6 months for return to sport. He will be monitored constantly during the rehabilitation phase so that he comes back on the field sooner,” Team Physio Gigy George said.
“Sandesh is our Iron-man. He will be missed in Kolkata but knowing him, I’m pretty sure, he’ll come back much stronger,” Stimac stated.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who led from the front as captain in the drawn match against Asian champions Qatar in Doha, termed the ruling out of Sandesh as ‘a big loss’ for the Blue Tigers.
“It’s really sad. It’s a big loss for us, especially at this moment. I could imagine how would he feel missing this game but he’s a strong guy and he’ll come back strongly soon,” Sandhu said.
The Indian team will reach Kolkata on Sunday (October 13).
The 23-member Indian Squad:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Adil Khan, Narender, Sarthak Golui, Anas Edathodika, Mandar Rao Desai, Subhasish Bose.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Vinit Rai, Anirudh Thapa, Abdul Sahal, Raynier Fernandes, Brandon Fernandes, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Balwant Singh, Manvir Singh.