The Indian football team's preparatory camp for the pre-Olympic qualifier against Myanmar got underway at the National Defence Academy (NDA) ground Pune on Friday.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has selected a total of 24 players for the camp from which the final 18 will handpicked after the conclusion of the camp on February 22.
India is scheduled to play Myanmar on February 23 in the first leg of the qualifiers at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune while the return leg match of round one will be played at Yangon, Myanmar on March 9.
Interestingly, 19 players of the Indian side currently undergoing training at the camp are from the I-League side Indian Arrows. The other five -- Nirmal Chhetri, Robin Singh (East Bengal), Arindam Bhattacharya (Churchill Brothers), N Mohanraj (Mohun Bagan) and CS Sabeeth (Viva Kerala) -- are from other clubs.
On day one, 23 players reported for the camp barring defender Mohanraj, who is expected to join the camp on Sunday. The team will be under the supervision of coach Desmond Bulpin.
The Myanmar team is expected to arrive in Pune on February 21. The visitors will practice at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Education Complex ground in Dhankawadi.
India is one of the 35 countries from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), who have entered this qualification process for three allocated spots for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The qualifiers will commence from next month and run up to March 2012.
It is for the first time that Pune will play host to a FIFA pre-Olympics qualifying encounter. The qualifier will be the fourth international fixture to be hosted by the city. Earlier, Pune hosted the Indian senior team for three international friendlies against Hong Kong, Vietnam and Yeman in October last year as part of their Asian Cup 2011 preparation.
The players shortlisted are:
Goalkeepers: Arindam Bhattacharya, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Jagroop Singh.
Defenders: Abhisek Das, R Vishal Kumar, Raju Gaekawad, Nirmal Chhetri, Inderpreet Singh, Deepak Devrani, Lalrozama Fenai, Mohanraj.
Midfielders: Subodh Kumar, Lalrindika Ralte, Jibon Singh, Shilton D'Silva, Jewel Raja Sheikh, Ongnam Milan Singh.
Strikers: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Malsawmfela, Robin Singh, CS Sabeeth, Jagtar Singh, Bikramjit Singh and Manandeeep Singh.