Despite his injury and fitness worries, Bhaichung Bhutia was named captain of the Indian football team for the Asian Cup in Doha starting January 7.
Bhutia, who is nursing a right-calf muscle injury, has admitted that he doesn't want to miss the tournament and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) expectedly selected him to lead the 23-member side that was announced Monday.
The only new face in the squad is goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who replaced Arindam Bhattacharya. Young defender Govin Singh has also made it to the side while Anthony Pereira, Arindam Bhattacharya and Samir Naik have been seated out due to injuries.
N.Mohanraj, Jagpreet Singh, Baljit Singh Sahni and experienced midfielder Lukram James Singh also have missed out.
The team, which is now based in Dubai, will leave for Doha Jan 6 and will open their campaign in Group C against Australia Jan 10. India next face Bahrain Jan 14 and will take on South Korea Jan 18 in their last league match.
The AIFF has also appointed Raul Carmo Fernandes as the team manager replacing Pradeep Chowdhury, who returned home after differences of opinion with the coach. AIFF vice-president Subrata Dutta will be the Chef de Mission while Larsing Sawayan will be the head of the delegation.
The squad: Goalkeepers: Subrata Pal, Subhasish Roy Choudhury and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Defenders: Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Anwar, Mahesh Gawli, Syed Rahim Nabi, Deepak Mondal, N.S. Manju, Rakesh Masih and Govin Singh
Midfielders: Steven Dias, N.P.Pradeep,Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Renedy Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadao, Baldeep Singh.
Strikers: Bhaichung Bhutia (captain), Sunil Chhetri, Abhishek Yadav and Sushil Kumar Singh.