Stephen Constantine, the Indian national team coach, on Thursday, has announed a 30-man probable squad for India's international friendly against Puerto Rico that will be played at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on September 3.
Since USSR defeated India 3-0 in 1955 wherein legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin featured, this will be the first official international encounter to be held in Mumbai after 61 years. However, in a non-FIFA matchday, an AIFF (All India Football Federation) XI team faced USSR XI at the venue where the Indian side were defeated by a solitary goal in 1965.
The fixture also boasts of a maiden appearance of a team from the CONCACAF region to officially play in India.
“It’s a hugely important match for the people in Maharashtra that international football is back in Mumbai after a long gap. Mumbai, as vibrant as ever, has been known for its football culture and I hope the Indian fans will be turning up to support and cheer from the stands. It’s important that we have a good crowd,” the India coach voiced over the significance of the tie.
“The buzz in Mumbai is something that the team is looking forward to. Personally for me, all the cosmopolitan cities of the country should be ready to host the national team," Constantine added.
With the players expected to report to camp on August 28, the practice sessions are to begin from Monday.
Sharing his thoughts on the opponents, Constantine said, “Puerto Rico were the best movers in the FIFA Rankings in July 2016. I have been watching some of their matches and they boast about a lot of players who play in quality leagues all over the world including Europe and the USA. They are a country similar to Guam. It’s an American colony and are a very good side. It will be a very tough game and we hope we can put up a good performance.”
India's last practice match in Bhutan on August 13 resulted in the hosts being beaten 3-0 with Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi and Halicharan Narzary finding the back of the net.
From the Indian Super League, Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United have the maximum representation with five players followed by Chennaiyin FC, Atletico de Kolkata (4), Kerala Blasters, Atletico de Kolkata, Delhi Dynamos (3 each) and FC Pune City (2). FC Goa incidentally only have one player from their squad in the Indian team.
Bengaluru FC continue to provide the biggest contingent for the national team with as many as eight players in the camp.
The 30-man squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul (NorthEast United), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Stabaek FC), Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City FC and Bengaluru FC);
Defenders: Rino Anto (Kerala Blasters and Bengaluru FC), Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters), Arnab Mondal (Atletico de Kolkata and East Bengal), Keegan Pereira (Atletico de Kolkata and Bengaluru FC), Chinglensana Konsham Singh (Delhi Dynamos and Shillong Lajong), Pritam Kotal (Atletico de Kolkata and Mohun Bagan), Narayan Das (FC Pune City and East Bengal), Fulganco Cardozo (FC Goa);
Midfielders: Vinit Rai (Chennaiyin FC and Dempo SC), Eugeneson Lyngdoh (FC Pune City and Bengaluru FC), Dhanpal Ganesh (Chennaiyin FC), Pronay Halder (Mumbai City FC), Jackichand Singh (Mumbai City FC), Isaac Vanmalsawma (Shillong Lajong), Bikash Jairu (Atletico de Kolkata and East Bengal), Rowllin Borges (NorthEast United FC), Alwyn George (Delhi Dynamos and Bengaluru FC), Germanpreet Singh (Dempo SC), Mohammed Rafique (Kerala Blasters and East Bengal), Seityasen Singh (NorthEast United), Arjun Tudu (Delhi Dynamos and Army XI);
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh (Mumbai City FC and Bengaluru FC), Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC), Sumeet Passi (NorthEast United FC and Sporting Clube de Goa), Halicharan Narzary (NorthEast United FC), Daniel Lalhimpuia (Chennaiyin FC and Bengaluru FC)