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Rahim Ali, Seriton Fernandes earn maiden call-ups as India announce 25-man squad for Nepal friendlies

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Chennaiyin FC's 21-year-old Rahim Ali and FC Goa defender Seriton Fernandes are the two new faces in the All India Football Federation (AIFF)'s 25-man squad for the double friendlies against Nepal in September.

Rahim, who signed for Chennaiyin back in 2018, has registered two goals in 22 appearances for the Marina Machans and will look to make the best of the opportunity handed out to him by head coach Igor Stimac.

Serition, 28, featured for FC Goa in the AFC Champions League earlier this year and comes in as a replacement for Sandesh Jihingan, who was not considered for selections.

Meanwhile, Ishan Pandita - who was in the 28-man provisional squad for the June joint-qualification games in Qatar - has been left out in favour of Farukh Choudhary.

The Indian men's football team is currently camping in Kolkata - after a gap of 15 years - since August 15.

Following a 2-0 win against day I-League side Mohammedan Sporting in an exhibition match on Sunday, August 26, Stimac maintained that “we (India) need to be careful as we head to the next two matches.”

"We can’t expect much after 10 days of preparation. The legs are still heavy from the load, and we need to slow down, and refresh the players,” Stimac told the AIFF website.

The Croatian coach also touched upon the performance of his team against Mohammedan Sporting, and lamented about on the pitch conditions.

“The conditions were challenging. They should have scored a few goals much earlier. But it was not easy under the heavy downpour, and a heavy pitch,” Stimac explained. "It rained all throughout the match, and the downpour was heavy from midway in the second half," he added.

The Indian players who represented ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup 2021 are expected to link up with the rest of the Indian squad on Augst 27 (Kolkata) and August 29 (New Delhi) respectively.

"We understand that the ATK Mohun Bagan and BFC players will be in better shape than others for two matches against Nepal,” Stimac said.

The 25-member Indian men's football team will leave for Nepal on August 30. The international friendlies will be played on September 2 and September 5 respectively. 

Indian football team: Squad for Nepal friendlies

Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Mandar Rao Dessai, Akash Mishra, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Seriton Fernandes.

Midfielders: Lalengmawia, Bipin Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Jeakson Singh, Pronay Halder.

Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary.

Featured photo: AIFF media

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