Kolkata: Senior Indian National Team head coach Igor Stimac on Sunday announced that Pritam Kotal and Naorem Mahesh Singh have been called up to the Blue Tigers’ camp here in place of Sivasakthi Narayanan and Glan Martins, who are nursing injuries.
Team India began their camp on Thursday in their preparation for the upcoming Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament, where they are set to face Myanmar (March 22) and the Kyrgyz Republic (March 28) at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal.
“We have had three days of training so far, with the players that were not in the Hero ISL final. The rest will join us today (Sunday), so we will get one training session with them all before travelling to Imphal,” said Stimac. “I would like to congratulate both teams on an exciting final that went into extra time and penalties. I am sure all the fans enjoyed it very much.”
With eight out of nine players joining the National Team camp after playing the Hero Indian Super League Final, Stimac outlined the importance of taking good care of them, both physically and mentally.
“Most of these players that are now joining us will be exhausted both physically and psychologically, and there’s also the risk of putting too much load on their young shoulders and risking injuries,” he said.
“So, we need to be very careful that we do not take such risks with them. The health of the players is of paramount importance. The players belong to the clubs also, and we should not be irresponsible and send them back with injuries.”
The Blue Tigers are just a couple of days from setting foot in Imphal for the first time, and the India head coach is all the more excited at the prospect.
“We are very happy to be going to Imphal. It is part of promoting football in different cities and states in India, and I feel that it is a great step by the Federation. We hope that this action will
further push the government to invest more in infrastructure, so whenever the teams go to Imphal, there’s always top-quality football infrastructure present there,” he said.
The 55-year-old is keen to use the opportunity to play the two matches to try out different players.
“Our goal is to use each second of our time in the best way we can. We are talking about different levels of play here. We have certain players and a certain style of play, and a plan to go ahead. All will
get a chance,” he said. “Going forward, we will start with a pool of 45 players, and then narrow it down to 35, and then concentrate on building the strongest possible team for the Asian Cup.
“We need to look at the months that are in front of us, and see how best we can plan things so that the National Team can perform at an optimal level. If all parties sit together and discuss the best
possible way for all stakeholders, and we come to a solution for the best way to utilise the FIFA windows in June, September, October, and November, then Indian Football could go a long way,” he said. “It’s time we start taking football seriously in a way that all parties are satisfied,” the coach said.
The 23-member squad.
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Phurba Lachenpa Tempa, Amrinder Singh.
Defenders: Sandesh Jhingan, Roshan Singh, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra,
Chinglensana Konsham, Rahul Bheke, Mehtab Singh, Pritam Kotal.
Midfielders: Suresh Wangjam, Rohit Kumar, Anirudh Thapa, Brandon
Fernandes, Yasir Mohammad, Ritwik Das, Jeakson Singh, Lallianzuala
Chhangte, Bipin Singh.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Naorem Mahesh Singh.