32-man India shortlist for 2018 World Cup qualifier against Nepal revealed

The newly appointed Blue Tigers' coach sprang a few surprises as he revealed the probables for the face-off against Nepal scheduled in March...
Newly appointed India coach Stephen Constantine has revealed a list of 32 probables for India’s forthcoming matches in the preliminary joint qualification round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup against Nepal.

India first host their neighbours on March 12 at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium, Guwahati while the return leg is slated to be played in Nepal on March 17.

“With the help of Savio Medeira and Venkatesh we first registered the list of 50 Players and then Venky and myself sat down to select 32 players for the Camp,” Constantine announced.

The squad will be further trimmed to a shortlist of 26 players at the end of round 8 of the ongoing I-League. The squad will then report to the camp in Guwahati from March 4 onwards.

“We hope to send a message to everybody who has an Indian nationality that they have a chance to play for the national team. I am really excited and looking forward to it,” the coach expressed.

“We won’t get everybody together in the camp at the same time. There’s an I-League match on March 4 and hopefully, everyone will assemble by the next day,” he added.

Several memebers of the squad Wim Koevermans had selected to face Bangladesh last year have failed to make the cut. Amrinder Singh is the custodian who misses out while Denzil Franco and Narayan Das have been excluded form the defensive department.

Rocus Lamare, Victorino Fernandes and veteran Clifford Miranda are the midfielders who will not feature either. 

Goan franchises seem to dominate the squad with Indian Super League outfit FC Goa being represented by six players while I-League club Dempo SC have eight of the players on their payroll.

The list of the 32 probables for the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup is as follows:

GOALKEEPERS: Subrata Paul (Mumbai City FC/Salgaocar), Karanjit Singh (Salgaocar), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Stabek FC), Arindam Bhattacharya (FC Pune City/Bharat FC).

DEFENDERS: Keegan Pereira, Rino Anto (both Bengaluru FC), Saumik Dey (Kerala Blasters/East Bengal), Raju Gaikwad (Mumbai City FC/ East Bengal), Arnab Mondal (Atletico de Kolkata/East Bengal), Aiborlang Khongjee (North East United/Shillong Lajong), Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters/Sporting Clube de Goa), Rowilson Rodrigues (FC Goa/Dempo), Augustin Fernandes (Salgaocar SC), Pritam Kotal (FC Pune City/Mohun Bagan).

MIDFIELDERS: Prabir Das (FC Goa/Dempo), Francis Fernandes (Delhi Dynamos/Dempo), Lenny Rodrigues (FC Pune City/Dempo), Eugeneson Lyngdoh (Bengaluru FC), Anthony D’Souza (Pune FC), Mehtab Hossain (Kerala Blasters/East Bengal), Cavin Lobo (Atletico de Kolkata/East Bengal), Lalrindika Ralte (Mumbai City FC/East Bengal), Dhanapal Ganesh (Pune FC).

FORWARDS: Mandar Rao Desai, Romeo Fernandes, Alwyn George, Holicharan Narzary (all FC Goa/Dempo), Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh (both Bengaluru FC), Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua (both Chennaiyin FC/Mohun Bagan), Jackichand Singh (Royal Wahingdoh).