India head coach Igor Stimac has announced a 26-member probables list for the Merdeka Cup 2023, which is slated to be played in Malaysia from October 13. This tournament will be a quadrangular event, with hosts Malaysia, Palestine and Tajikistan joining the Blue Tigers.
India will be highly favored to win this tournament, although it is not quite easy to say so right from the offing. The ongoing Indian Super League has a window at that time, and this is when Stimac will take his team to Malaysia to compete in this prestigious tournament.
October 17 is when the final match of the tournament will be played, between the top two teams. The third-place playoff will also take place on the same day, between the two sides ending up as third and fourth.
Hyderabad FC’s star centre-back Chinglensana Singh, who was called up to the national team for the Asian Games being held in Hangzhou, China, was strangely omitted from this list. Chinglensana stood tall like a rock in the Indian defense in the said tournament and deserved to be picked in the side for the Merdeka Cup as well.
Having had to opt out of the national team owing to the unrest in his home state of Manipur earlier this year, Chinglensana has not been given his place back in the side, despite assurances from Stimac earlier.
The latter has instead chosen to reinstill his faith in Sandesh Jhingan, Lalchungnunga and strangely, Mumbai City’s Mehtab Singh.
Anwar Ali, deservedly so, retains his place. Mohun Bagan’s Vishal Kaith has been named in the probables list amongst the goalkeepers as has FC Goa’s Dheeraj Singh.
The midfield consists of the usual suspects whereas the forward line has seen Rahim Ali being stripped of his colors. Sunil Chhetri and Manvir Singh are the only two forwards named by Stimac. Liston Colaco is named in the midfielders’ list.
The 26-member probables list is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Vishal Kaith and Dheeraj Singh
Defenders: Nikhil Poojari, Roshan Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Mehtab Singh, Lalchungnunga, Akash Mishra and Subhashish Bose
Midfielders: Jeakson Singh, Suresh Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Rohit Kumar, Sahal Abdul Samad, Brandon Fernandes, Lalianzuala Chhangte, Udanta Singh, Vikram Pratap Singh, Mahesh Singh Naorem, Liston Colaco and Nandhakumar Sekar
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri and Manvir Singh
Head Coach: Igor Stimac