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AFC Asian Cup: Rotation of captaincy for India is not unprecedented!

16:48 GMT+4 06/01/2019
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu Bengaluru FC FC Goa ISL 4 2017/2018
The Blue Tigers are set to have different captain for each game at the Asian Cup with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to do so in the first game...

India, participating in the AFC Asian Cup after a gap of eight years, are set to have different captains in every match of the group stage in the continental tournament.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will take up the armband against Thailand in the tournament opener on Sunday while other senior figures are expected to be named captains in the subsequent matches against UAE and Bahrain.

Head coach Stephen Constantine has not made any secret of his desire to rotate the captaincy ahead of the game, pointing out that it was something he has been doing for quite a while now. In fact, Gurpreet, Sandesh Jhingan and Sunil Chhetri have all captained India in various games.

"I have been rotating the captaincy for four years. It is not something that I just started or we qualified and I change it. We have had four, five captains or maybe six or seven," he said.

The captaincy was an issue that was keenly watched by the fans, given the hue and cry after Jhingan was named captain over Sunil Chhetri against China in an international friendly in October 2018.

However, while the merits and demerits of rotating the captaincy can be argued over, it is not something that is unprecedented in the world of football.

The glaring example that comes to mind is Brazil head coach Tite who handed the captaincy to 16 players in various matches in the two years prior to 2018 World Cup. Stars like Neymar, Thiago Silva, Marcelo, Paulinho, Gabriel Jesus and Philippe Coutinho were all given the chance to lead the team out.

Even England manager Gareth Southgate was in the news for naming different players as captains for every match in the lead up to the 2018 World Cup. Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Eric Dier were all named captains before Kane got the job for good before the World Cup.

"We pay it (captaincy) too much attention, there's no doubt about that,' said Roy Hodgson about England's captaincy shuffle. "It's a very prestigious position and, as a result, it carries a weight that can sometimes work against the manager."

"We have some good players, all of whom have good leadership qualities, so why not share it around?"

There are countless other examples of managers not sticking by one captain for the national team. Clarence Seedorf, former AC Milan and Real Madrid star, has adopted the same approach at Cameroon where he took charge recently, naming the likes of Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Georges Mandjeck as captains.

Kwesi Appiah of Ghana used to rotate the armband between Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew frequently. Such examples can be found during the stints of Fabio Capello at England and Louis van Gaal at Netherlands too.

The point being that instead of focusing on who the captain is, India should fight as a team and deliver on one of the biggest stages in Asia.