Kolkata: The absence of ace striker Baichung Bhutia and the inclusion of new untested players will mean India will face a challenging time in the forthcoming SAF Football Championships at Dhaka, chief National coach for the seniors Stephen Constantine said here today. Announcing the 20-member squad for the championship, Constantine said, "It is going to be a very tough tournament for us. We are in a very strong group. Quite a few of our regulars including star striker Baichung Bhutia are not in the team because of injuries, while many others in the squad are new and inexperienced." "If we win this tournament, it will be as good as winning the LG Cup in Vietnam last year," he said. The players selected for the squad are:
Custodian Sandip Nandy (East Bengal), mid-fielder Basudev Mondol (Mohun Bagan) and striker R C Prakash of Mahindra United have been dropped from the squad.
Commenting on the Indian team Constantine said, "The fitness level of the players in the team has improved since the beginning of the camp. I wish we had the camp for a longer period."
While Constantine and Aloke Mukherjee will be the chief coach and assistant coach of the team, Sukhbinder Singh would accompany the squad as the techinical director.
India, which have won the last two SAF Football titles, will face Pakistan at the inaugural match on January 10 and then play against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in their group league ties on January 12 and 14 respectively.
Hosts Bangladesh along with Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives have been clubbed in the second group.
After the group league matches, the top two teams would move to the semifinals. The finals will be played on January 20.
Topics : Football