SAFF Championship India

National Coach Stephen Constantine puts faith in young guns for the preparatory camp for the SAFF Championship

Indian Head Coach Stephen Constantine has put his faith in young guns as four U-19 players from India’s FIFA U-17 World Cup India’s squad has been included for the preparatory camp for the SAFF Championship.

The four U-19 players — Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rahim Ali and Rahul KP –will be joining the squad of other U-23 players for the preparatory and conditioning camp in Delhi from July 28 onwards, along with 30 others.

With the Indian National football team denied participation by the Indian Olympic Association to participate in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang by IOA, this will be a good opportunity for upcoming young players to put themselves into the selection for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 next year.

Among the others, 29 are current U-23 players with Sumeet Passi despite being a bench warmer for his ISL side Jamshedpur FC and not being in the squad for the Hero Intercontinental Cup surprisingly keeps finding his name in Constantine’s good books.

India, the defending champions, have pooled in Group B along with the Maldives and Sri Lanka and play their first match against Sri Lanka in Bangladesh (venue not yet announced) on September 6. The final is slated on September 15. India is expected to start as favourites in what could be India’s final participation in the SAFF Championship if the proposed Southwest Asian Football Federation (SWAFF) materializes in the near future much to the discomfort of the AFC in the major shakeup Asian football.

Constantine is known for his development of young players with several players making India senior team debut under the British Cypriot Coach stressed the importance of progression of young players to the senior team through systematic developmental plan said,”We are always looking down to the age groups to see if these players can make the step up the ladder. I have always put a great deal of importance on the youth and have stuck to the same philosophy — this camp is no different. Quite a few youngsters have been provided with a chance to prove their worth,” he added.

“Heading to a tournament with such a young team is going to be a challenge but that’s what we want. We want to find out that particular player who can push the extra bit to achieve the desired result, who can take up the extra responsibility to force himself into the team.”

The list of 34 probables stay as follows:

GOALKEEPERS: Vishal Kaith, Toufik Kabir, Kamaljit Singh, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill.

DEFENDERS: Nishu Kumar, Umesh Perambhara, Davinder Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Salam Ranjan Singh, Sarthak Golui, Lalruatthara, Subhasish Bose, Jerry Lalrinzuala.

MIDFIELDERS: Nikhil Poojary, Isaac Vanmalswama, S Nandha Kumar, Udanta Singh, Vinit Rai, Germanpreet Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Rohit Kumar, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Arjun Jayaraj, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan, Vignesh D, Rahim Ali.

FORWARDS: Sumit Passi, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Hitesh Sharma, Alen Deory, Manvir Singh, Kivi Zhimomi, Rahul KP.

HEAD COACH: Stephen Constantine.