Asian Games: Jhingan added to Indian men’s football squad


The All India Football Federation on Friday said that senior defender Sandesh Jhingan as well as Chinglensana Singh and Lalchungnunga will be joining the Indian men’s squad for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, arriving at a consensus amid the club versus country conundrum.

Sunil Chhetri will be spearheading the Indian challenge at the Asian Games. Football competition in the Asian Games is an under-23 affair with three over-aged players permitted per team.

However earlier this week, the Indian team’s preparations were dealt a blow, with the Indian Super League clubs refusing to release many key national team players for the continental event. Thirteen players from the original 22-member squad announced last month were not released, including Jhingan and first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

This has now been party resolved, after days of confusion and hectic parleys.

The AIFF will conduct a medical test of Naorem Mahesh Singh before taking a decision to include him in the squad, the national federation said in a press release.

AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said that he is thankful to FSDL and stakeholders of the AIFF for agreeing to reschedule some matches of the Indian Super League, which is supposed to start from September 21.

“It is indeed a positive development on the eve of the Asian Games as the reliable pair of Sunil Chhetri and Sandesh Jhingan will be manning two key positions in the Indian attack and defence, respectively, for the continental games. We are further happy that some more experienced footballers are there in the squad to strengthen our campaign.”

India head coach Igor Stimac, who has been urging ISL clubs to release their players for national duty, said, “It’s a wonderful development that some experienced players have been added to the Asian Games squad, who will certainly help the cause of the team. I’m thankful to FSDL (ISL organisers) and AIFF for making it happen. Whoever represents India, together we will be honoured to defend the flag.”

This will be Chhetri’s third Asian Games, the first being the 2006 edition as a 22-year-old under English coach Bob Houghton. The team was led by Bhaichung Bhutia, who was included as one the over-aged players. India drew with Hong Kong (1-1), beat Maldives (2-1) and lost to Iran (0-2) to crash out in the group stage.

In the 2014 edition in Incheon, Korea, Chhetri captained India after being included as one of the above-23 age players. India again ended their campaign in the group stage after losing to UAE (0-5) and Jordan (0-2).

Indian men’s football team for the Asian Games

Goalkeepers: Gurmeet Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.

Defenders: Sumit Rathi, Narender Gahlot, Deepak Tangri, Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Lalchungnunga.

Midfielders: Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Samuel James Lyngdoh, Rahul KP, Abdul Rabeeh, Ayush Dev Chhetri, Bryce Miranda, Azfar Noorani, Vincy Barretto.

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Rahim Ali, Rohit Danu, Gurkirat Singh, Aniket Jadhav.

Head coach: Igor Stimac.

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