Pune FC’s Arata Izumi has been rewarded for his prolific form this season by India coach Wim Koevermans as he has been named in the 23-member roster for the international friendly against Palestine to be played on February 6 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi.
A Japanese citizen until last year, Arata, who was born to an Indian father and a Japanese mother, got his Indian passport just before the commencement of the 2012-13 I-League season and now holds an Indian name, Neelkhant Khambholja.
Goalkeeper Subhasish Roychowdhury of Dempo has been dropped in favour of Churchill Brothers’ in-form custodian, the 38-year old Sandip Nandy. The East Bengal trio of Robin Singh, Gurwinder Singh and Sanju Pradhan, who has been injured, are not part of the squad that was named for the international friendly against Yemen in November last year.
Apart from Arata and Nandy, Gurjinder Kumar, Raju Gaikwad, Lalkamal Bhowmick and Sushil Kumar have made it into the elite list. Prayag United’s CK Vineeth has been named for the first time into the India squad after being consistent in his performances with Prayag United and Chirag Kerala last season.
Koevermans has added several new faces
Taking over the mantle from East Bengal, Eelco Schattorie's Prayag United have the maximum representation in the national team with four players in CK Vineeth, Subrata Paul, Gouramangi Moirangthem and Lalkamal Bhowmick.
The Dutchman under whom India had won the Nehru Cup in September 2012, reiterated the importance of the game for India. “Such games will go a long way in helping us assess ourselves and improve for such matches in the future,” said Koevermans.
GOALKEEPERS: Subrata Paul (Prayag United), Sandip Nandy (Churchill Brothers), Karanjit Singh (Salgaocar).
DEFENDERS: Nirmal Chettri (Mohun Bagan), Gouramangi Moirangthem (Prayag United), Shouvik Ghosh (Pailan Arrows), Syed Rahim Nabi (Mohun Bagan), Gurjinder Kumar (Pune FC), Raju Gaikwad (East Bengal), Denzil Franco (Churchill Brothers).
MIDFIELDERS: Lenny Rodrigues (Churchill Brothers), Lalkamal Bhowmick (Prayag United), Arata Izumi (Pune FC), Mehtab Hussain (East Bengal), Francis Fernandes (Salgaocar), Anthony Pereira (Dempo SC), Alwyn George (Pailan Arrows), Jewel Raja (Mohun Bagan), Clifford Miranda (Dempo SC), Vineet CK (Prayag United).
FORWARDS: Sunil Chhetri (Sporting Lisbon), Manandeep Singh (East Bengal), Sushil Kumar Singh (Shillong Lajong FC).
STANDBYS: Subhashish Roychowdhury (Dempo SC), Dhanachandra Singh (Prayag United), Sandesh Jhingan (USFC), Arnab Mondal (East Bengal), Gurwinder Singh (East Bengal), Rocus Lamare (Salgaocar SC), Lalrindika Ralte (East Bengal), Peter Carvalho (Dempo SC), Tomba Singh (Churchill Brothers), Asif K (Prayag United), Malswamtulunga (Prayag United), Joaquim Abranches (Dempo SC), Robin Singh (East Bengal), Jeje Lalpekhlua (Pune FC)
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