Bheke, Samad, Soosairaj in India's preliminary King's Cup squad
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Thursday, announced a 37-man preliminary squad which will take part in a preparatory camp for the upcoming King's Cup tournament in Thailand. The camp will be newly appointed national team head coach Igor Stimac's first rendezvous with the players on the training pitch.
To recall, India will participate in the four-nation King's Cup in Thailand from June 5. The tournament is set to be the Blue Tigers' first international foray after the AFC Asian Cup 2019 back in January. Stimac will be picking his final squad from the 37 players involved in the camp later this month.
Some of the most notable inclusions in the squad are Rahul Bheke, Michael Soosairaj, Brandon Fernandes and Sahal Abdul Samad. Bheke was a revelation for Bengaluru FC during Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 and emerged as the hero for the Blues in the final, after scoring the winning goal in extra time. He was unlucky to have missed out on an AFC Asian Cup 2019 slot under previous head coach Stephen Constantine and it will be interesting to see if the dynamic right back finds a place in Stimac's plans.
Like Bheke, Jamshedpur FC's Michael Soosairaj, Kerala Blasters FC's Sahal Abdul Samad and FC Goa's Brandon Fernandes were all brilliant for their respective teams last season and have been knocking on the doors for a slot in the senior national team. Chennaiyin FC's Dhanpal Ganesh, who has been impressing in the team's AFC Cup campaign after coming back from a long injury layoff, also finds a spot in the squad.
Here’s the 37-member squad:
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vishal Kaith, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Salam Ranjan Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Anwar Ali, Subhasish Bose, Narayan Das
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Bikramjit Singh, Dhanpal Ganesh, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Germanpreet Singh, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Amarjit Singh, Redeem Tlang, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Nandhakumar Sekar, Komal Thatal, Michael Soosairaj
FORWARDS: Balwant Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Jobby Justin, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh