Anirudh Thapa is set to become the second-youngest footballer to ever play for India at the AFC Asian Cup.
The continental tournament starts on January 5, 2019 in the UAE and Anirudh Thapa is not only the youngest player in the Indian squad picked up by head coach Stephen Constantine but also only older than the legend Inder Singh who featured in the 1964 edition of the Asian Cup under Harry Wright.
Inder Singh was 20 years, 5 months and 3 days old when the Asian Cup kicked off 55 years ago on May 26, 1964. The runners-up finish back then from a three-team finals remains India's best continental feat till date.
Although Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was part of the 2011 Asian Cup squad at the age of 19, he didn't feature in any of the matchday squads.
Chennaiyin midfielder Anirudh Thapa will be 20 years, 11 months and 21 days old when the 2019 AFC Asian Cup starts on January 5, 2019.
Thapa impressed for Chennaiyin in ISL last season and earned a spot in the national team. Constantine's trust in the young midfielder is being repaid as the 20-year-old is the favourite to start in midfield at the AFC Asian Cup.
India are in Group A alongside Thailand, Bahrain and hosts UAE. The Blue Tigers will start their campaign on January 6, 2018 against Thailand at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.