The India national team will be assembling in New Delhi over the next couple of days before the squad takes part in a week-long preparatory camp at the Ambedkar Stadium in the capital. The side is then expected to leave for United States of America for an exposure tour where they will be playing five matches in a fortnight, even though there is still some amount of uncertainty about the fate of the sojourn.
Stephen Constantine, however, will have to be content without a number of first-team regulars as Bengaluru FC and East Bengal have decided not to release players for the tour. While the Blues will start their preparations for their AFC Cup quarter-final against Tampines Rovers, the Red and Golds will be trying to notch up a record consecutive seventh Calcutta Football League victory.
"Bengaluru FC didn't receive any communication in writing from the Federation. However, they have verbally informed about their inability to release players," a source in the know of things informed.
On the other hand, four East Bengal players, namely Arnab Mondal, Mohammed Rafique, Kaushik Sarkar and Narayan Das were also summoned but the club was reluctant to let them go.
"It all depends on the coach. We have also not received anything in writing," Dr. Santi Ranjan Dasgupta, a senior official of the club informed on Saturday afternoon.
"No, we are not releasing players for the camp as it stands now. You can assume that will remain our final stand," Santosh Bhattacharya, the football secretary of the club informed late evening. However, the club have finally agreed to release only Kaushik Sarkar for the camp.
This means that the former Rwanda national team coach will be devoid of the services of the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Amrinder Singh, Arnab Mondal, Rino Anto and Udanta Singh, all of whom could have been part of the first eleven. With the camp and matches set to be held on non FIFA match dates, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who plies his trade for Norwegian side Stabaek FC, will also not be there.
Among the players who started in the convincing 6-1 victory against Laos on 7th June, only Sandesh Jhingan, Sumeet Passi and Jeje Lalpekhlua will be there in the camp. Jeje, however, is expected to arrive in Delhi on Tuesday and will also attend the Mohun Bagan day celebrations on Friday, where he will be handed the joint Best Player of the Season award along with Haitian attacker Sony Norde.
With a number of stars missing, Jeje is set to be announced the captain of the side again while the likes of Pronay Halder, Pritam Kotal, Holicharan Narzary will also be present. Gurjinder Singh has earned a surprise call while youngsters like Germanpreet Singh and Chingelsena Singh will be also be there.
The team is expected to leave for USA on 1st August and the names of the opponents will be revealed in the next few days. Constantine had played for Pennsylvania Stoners and the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms in US but a knee injury forced him to retire at the age of 26.
India had travelled to North America last in 2006, when they took part in a quadrangular competition organized by Major League Soccer(MLS) side Vancouver Whitecaps. The Blue Tigers lost against the hosts in the first match but goals from N.P.Pradeep and Manjit Singh helped them notch up a 2-1 victory against China U-20s, thereby securing a third place finish in the invitational tournament.