Indian men’s national football team head coach, Igor Stimac, has named a list of 38 probables for the preparatory camp ahead of India’s international friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus.

The players along with the head coach and the staff will assemble in Pune on March 10, with practice starting from the next day onwards. The players whose clubs would be playing in the semi-finals of the ongoing Indian Super League will be joining the camp as and when their club commitments end.

The list will later be pruned, and the contingent will be flying to Bahrain on March 21. The Blue Tigers are scheduled to play Bahrain on March 23, and Belarus on March 26, with both matches kicking off at 9.30 pm IST.

Looking ahead to the preparatory camp, Stimac felt “playing against better teams is the best way to improve our own game.”

“The two International Friendlies are part of our preparations for the 3rd round of qualifiers, and we need to show some resilience and creativity,” he averred. “The two matches should enable our players to mature, and gain more experience against stronger sides. But for all of them it’s the start of the competition to gain that coveted place in the starting line-up for the June qualifiers.”

“I have been watching every single game and admiring the boys for giving everything they have for their clubs,” Stimac expressed. “It’s been terrible for everyone involved since the pandemic started, but the job needs to be done. At the same time, we need to commend the super organisational capabilities of the two Leagues being held simultaneously under current circumstances – that too when footballing activities all over have stumbled a bit.”

India will be playing the final round of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifying matches in Kolkata from June 8 onwards. India have been clubbed in Group D along with Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia. 24 teams have been divided into six groups and the group winners, and the five best 2nd placed teams will earn a ticket to the Asian Cup in China.

For the record, it’s the first national senior team call-up for eight players, namely, Prabhshukhan Gill, Mohammad Nawaz, Deepak Tangri, Roshan Singh, Vikram Partap Singh, VP Suhair, Aniket Jadav, and Jerry Mawihmingthanga.

India's squad for Bahrain and Belarus friendlies

GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh, Prabhshukhan Gill, Mohammad Nawaz.

DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Ashutosh Mehta, Seriton Fernandes, Ashish Rai, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Deepak Tangri, Narender Gahlot, Chinglensana Singh, Subhashish Bose, Akash Mishra, Mandar Rao Dessai, Roshan Singh.

MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Vikram Partap Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Pronay Halder, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Brandon Fernandes, VP Suhair, Lalengmawia, Sahal Abdul Samad, Yasir Mohammad, Ashique Kuruniyan, Aniket Jadav, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Jerry Mawihmingthanga.

FORWARDS: Manvir Singh, Liston Colaco, Sunil Chhetri, Rahim Ali.

Featured photo: AFP / Manjunath Kiran