Wim Koevermans made four changes from the 23 player squad that was picked against Palestine, as he named India’s squad for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, which begin on March 2 in Yangon, Myanmar.
Perhaps the stand-out inclusion is that of Pune FC striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, who had been overlooked repeatedly since being not included in the Nehru Cup. Robin Singh and Rowilson Rodrigues also make the squad, with Sushil Kumar Singh, Manandeep Singh and Anthony Pereira making way for the trio. Subhashish Roychowdhury also lost out to Karanjit Singh, who was omitted from the Palestine squad due to injury.
The Indian head coach’s plans were hurt by injuries to players like Arnab Mondal, Sandesh Jhingan, Malswamatulunga and Joaquim Abranches. Francis Fernandes, who has made the final squad, is also carrying an injury.
India has been clubbed with hosts Myanmar, Chinese Taipei and Guam in Group A. They play Chinese Taipei in their first match on March 2 followed by matches against Guam and hosts Myanmar on March 4 and March 6 respectively.
The five group toppers alongwith two best second-placed teams from the 20 nations will make it to the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, with host nation Maldives already having sealed their place in the competition.
The squad would leave Mumbai on Monday night and reach Yangon on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the All India Football Federation has agreed to allow players from Churchill Brothers and East Bengal to join the national squad later on, after playing their away AFC Cup ties on February 26 and 27 respectively.
The four Churchill Brothers players -- Sandip Nandy, Denzil Franco, Lenny Rodrigues and Sunil Chhetri - would join the rest of squad on February 27 while the two East Bengal players - Raju Gaikwad and Robin - will report on February 28.
The Squad -
Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul, Sandip Nandy, Karanjit Singh
Defenders: Nirmal Chhetri, Syed Rahim Nabi, Denzil Franco, Gouramangi Singh, Rowilson Rodrigues, Shouvik Ghosh, Raju Gaikwad, Gurjinder Singh
Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues, Lalkamal Bhowmick, C K Vineet, Arata Izumi, Mehtab Hossain, Francisco Fernandes, Alwyn George, Jewel Raja Shaikh, Clifford Miranda
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua.
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