Ishfaq Ahmed was probably the most consistent left sided midfielder in the I-League. The Kashmiri played nearly every game for Mohun Bagan and looked lively in most of those games giving the fullbacks a tough time with his pace and strength.
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
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
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
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
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.