Thapa, Sahal the star attractions from India’s U-23 squad for AFC Championship qualifiers

The India U-23 coach, Derrick Pereira announced the travelling party for the upcoming AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers on Tuesday evening. The Men in Blue are to face Tajikistan on March 22 followed by matches against hosts, Uzbekistan and arch-rivals Pakistan on March 24 and 26 respectively. The winner of the group will directly qualify for the main event to be held in Thailand next year.

A host of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) young guns have made the shortlist. The impressive Kerala Blasters FC goalkeeper, Dheeraj Singh will be contesting for a starting spot alongside fellow shot-stopper and FC Goa no.1 Mohammad Nawaz.

The Hero ISL Emerging Player of the 2018-19 season, Sahal Abdul Samad was also included in the squad after a breakout season where he displayed extraordinary maturity despite being part of a rather underperforming Blasters unit. Anirudh Thapa too, found his name on the list and will be hopeful of getting over the disappointments from Chennaiyin FC’s miserable Hero ISL campaign to drive the Men in Blue forward.

The other notable inclusions were Lallianzuala Chhangte, Vinit Rai and Daniel Lalhlimpuia from Delhi Dynamos FC, Nishu Kumar from Bengaluru FC, Sarthak Golui from FC Pune City, Komal Thatal from ATK, Anwar Ali from Mumbai City FC and Jerry Mawhmingthanga from Jamshedpur FC.

Here’s the full 23-man list:

Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Prabhsukhan Gill, Mohammad Nawaz.

Defenders: Narender, Nishu Kumar, Sarthak Golui, Gaurav Bora, Mehtab Singh, Anwar Ali, Asish Rai.

Midfielders: Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul, Amarjit Singh, Rohit Kumar, Anirudh Thapa, Komal Thatal, Rahul KP.

Forwards: Liston Colaco, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Rahim Ali, Rohit Danu.

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