Indian national team head coach Stephen Constantine has announced his 28-member initial squad for the upcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup which will be held in January in the UAE.
A 34-man probables list was drawn up last week with the national camp commencing in New Delhi on 17 December. Constantine has left out six players as 28 of them will travel to the UAE on December 20 for the tournament which will kick-start on January 5, 2019.
The Blue Tigers are scheduled to play two friendlies in the build up to the continent's showpiece event. A date with Oman on 27 December would have preceded a game with tournament dark horses Syria on New Year's Eve. However, Syria will now instead play Yemen and India will entertain a local club side. The squad will be trimmed further and a final 23-man list is expected to be announced later.
Fullbacks Jerry Lalrinzuala and Nishu Kumar were ruled out with injury while uncapped players Komal Thatal and Sahal Abdul Samad have been sent back. Bikash Jairu and Nikhil Poojary too miss out on a ticket to the UAE, from the 34-man list.
India's Group A opponents are Bahrain, UAE and Thailand. The Blue Tigers will play their first match of the campaign against Thailand at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
INDIA 28-MAN INITIAL SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru), Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City), Arindam Bhattacharya (ATK), Vishal Kaith (Pune City);
Defenders: Pritam Kotal (Delhi Dynamos), Sarthak Golui (Pune City), Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters), Anas Edathodika (Kerala Blasters), Salam Ranjan Singh (East Bengal), Subhasish Bose (Mumbai City), Narayan Das (Delhi Dynamos), Lalruatthara (Kerala Blasters);
Midfielders: Udanta Singh (Bengaluru), Pronay Halder (ATK), Rowllin Borges (NorthEast United), Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin), Vinit Rai (Delhi Dynamos), Halicharan Narzary (Kerala Blasters), Ashique Kuruniyan (Pune City), Germanpreet Singh (Chennaiyin), Lallianzuala Chhangte (Delhi Dynamos), Jackichand Singh (Goa);
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru), Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin), Sumeet Passi (Jamshedpur), Farukh Choudhary (Jamshedpur), Balwant Singh (ATK), Manvir Singh (Goa).