Stimac names 23 players for SAFF Championship, Udanta returns
Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac on Sunday named a 23-member squad for the upcoming SAFF Championship in the Maldives with Bengaluru FC winger Udanta Singh returning to the side.
Udanta, who missed the two international friendly matches against Nepal earlier this month, made the cut for the October 1-16 regional tournament.
Chennaiyin FC's Vishal Kaith figured among the three goalkeepers while Amrinder Singh was replaced by Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Dheeraj was not named in the original squad of 23 but he was later included in place of Amrinder.
"#BlueTigers goalkeeper Amrinder Singh has been replaced by Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem in the Indian National Team squad that is to travel to the Maldives for the SAFF Championship on Tuesday," the official Twitter handle of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said hours after it announced the squad.
Defender Akash Mishra, midfielders Bipin Singh and Pronay Halder were the other players left out of the 25-member team that went to Kathmandu for the two international friendlies.
The players and the support staff will assemble in Bengaluru on Monday and fly out to the Maldives the next day. Stimac, and other members of the technical staff, will join the squad directly in Maldives on the same day.
Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and hosts Maldives are the other teams in the championship. Each team plays each other once with the top two teams qualifying for the final.
"We are all looking forward to the SAFF Championship as the leading football country in this part of Asia," Stimac said.
"These 4-5 games are extremely crucial for us as we won’t have any other chance of getting together before the start of 3rd round AFC Asian Cup qualifiers next season. So these matches should help us to improve a few points in our game."
The Blue Tigers have won the SAFF Championship (formerly SAARC Cup) seven times -- 1993 in Lahore, 1997 in Kathmandu, 1999 in Margao, 2005 in Karachi, 2009 (U23 squad) in Dhaka, 2011 in New Delhi), 2015-16 in Thiruvananthapuram.
India begin their campaign against Bangladesh on October 4.
India's fixtures in the group stage:
October 4: India vs Bangladesh (4.30pm IST).
October 7: India vs Sri Lanka (4.30pm IST).
October 10: India vs Nepal (8.30pm IST).
October 13: India vs Maldives (8.30pm IST).
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Vishal Kaith.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Seriton Fernandes, Chinglensana Singh, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary.