Despite having a brilliant season at Mohun Bagan, Ishfaq Ahmed was not included in the list of 27 probables for the national camp. Goal.com's Amoy Ghoshal wonders whether the Kashmiri deserved a place in it.
He has the ability go past defenders and can also hold up play pretty well. However his final ball does the lack the quality at times and he scores very few goals despite getting into good positions.
But none can doubt that he was one of the best performers in the I-League and even in the Federation Cup. So his consistency probably deserved a call to the national camp.
The list has familiar names but since it is a camp maybe Bob Houghton could have included a new face like Ishfaq.
Another factor that should have worked in his favour is the fact that the list consists of too many similar wide midfielders. Steven Dias, Anthony Pereira, Clifford Miranda and Renedy Singh are all good crossers of the ball and are not known for going past defenders.
The national team does lack a ball player and Ishfaq is one of very few such players in the country so his inclusion would have given the squad much more balance and versatility.
He also does a good job for his fullback by tracking back whenever possible and so his work ethic should have also been considered.
But Houghton went for continuity and included the tried and tested set of wide midfielders and maybe it was a proof of the fact that Englishman judges the performances in national team colors more than the exploits at club level in one season.
Its true that Ishfaq did well this season but this was his first big year in the Indian top flight. He hardly got a look in during his time at Dempo where he was a fringe player and was finding it tough at Bagan last season.
So it’s possible that Houghton is waiting to see whether Ishfaq can do it for another season and then call him to the national team.
Another reason for his omission can be that India would also have a separate squad for the Olympic qualifiers which would mainly consist of U-23 players so Ishfaq might be in that squad as one of three overage players.
However it can be said that the four who have been included ahead of Ishfaq have lot of experience which is important in international competitions.
Renedy and Dias are good with their set pieces, Anthony is probably the best right sided midfielder and Clifford Miranda can come up with important goals so for now a place in the national team is a bit far away from Ishfaq.
At 26, he doesn’t have the same amount of time like many of the other promising midfielders in the country but another good season at Mohun Bagan will surely earn him a national call up and besides that this year there will be other camps for other tournaments.