FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: India Announces 26-Member Squad for Afghanistan Clash, Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Earns Maiden Call-up
Dheeraj Singh (Photo Credits: IANS)

Kolkata, November 6: Young goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem got his maiden call-up to the national team as Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac announced his 26-member squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Afghanistan and Oman scheduled to be played in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) and Muscat (Oman) on November 14 and 19 respectively.

Dheeraj, whose performance under the bar, during FIFA U17 World Cup India 2017 earned him huge praise, became the third player, after skipper Amarjit Singh and defender Anwar Ali, from the India U-17 world cup squad to get summoned to the senior team camp. India's FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers Asia Schedule & Points Table: Second Round Fixtures of Indian National Football Team, Match Timings & Venue Details.

"Dheeraj is a player for the future. We have always trusted our youngsters and they have also shown their prowess on the pitch. Our first choice goalkeepers are Gurpreet and Amrinder and we have seen Kamaljit and Vishal too. Now we would like to see Dheeraj closely as he belongs to those we should rely on in the future," coach Stimac said in an All India Football Federation (AIFF) statement.

Incidentally, two back-to-back away fixtures are always something which is "not going to be easy with the travelling involved".

"It's not going to be easy with the travelling involved. But, we are professionals and we know how to take care of our bodies. How we travel, what we eat, how much we sleep is going to be very important," Chhetri sounded cautious ahead of the two pivotal matches in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Stimac mentioned it was "not an easy task" to shortlist the players "given the healthy competition" in the team.

"I trust them and they know their responsibilities. After watching the league matches since they started, we have shortlisted these players. Some players who are not on the list also performed highly and came very close to getting selected," Stimac continued. "It's not going to be an easy task to select only a few players, given the healthy competition we have in each position. This is a good headache for us."

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem; Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Anas Edathodika, Narender, Adil Khan, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai; Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Seiminlen Doungel, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brandon Fernandes, Ashique Kuruniyan; Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh.