India U-23 footballers to travel to Australia for camp

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New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) A 22-member India U-23 football team will travel to Australia on Friday as part of their preparation for the forthcoming SAFF Suzuki Cup. The squad has been camping here since July 28.

India will be based at the Valentine Sports Park in Sydney for another 16-day long preparatory camp before they eventually leave for Dhaka on September 1, according to a statement.

“The exposure trip was planned before the Asian Games but unfortunately, we were barred from taking part in the Games. We didn’t see any reason to cancel the trip and had to postpone it prior to the SAFF Tournament,” head coach Stephen Constantine said.

Apart from the 22 players, two players have been kept in reserve who might get a call-up to join the contingent in Australia if circumstances demand so; 20 boys will eventually travel for the SAFF Suzuki Cup.

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Constantine also thanked the clubs for releasing the players from their club commitments for national duty.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the clubs for letting the players join the more-than-a-month long National Team Camp. We need such support from them until the AFC Asian Cup 2019. It’s good for the country as well as the clubs. I appreciate that”, he added.

“Although we didn’t qualify for the AFC U23 Championship, these boys showed good signs in Qatar last year. A few new boys have come and they’re putting in an effort to integrate with the other boys.”

“It’s a group of talented youngsters and I believe a good number of players will graduate to the senior team in time,” the coach said.

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On being asked whether the U-23 boys will be under pressure against the senior teams in the SAFF Suzuki Cup, he explained: “I take it as a challenge for us. If the senior boys compete in the SAFF Tournament, these young boys won’t get the opportunity to play anytime soon. I think this tournament should be treated as a platform to give more exposure to the U23 boys which will be beneficial for India in future.”

The list of 22 players along with 2 reserves is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Vishal Kaith, Kamaljit Singh, Sukhdev Patil.

Defenders: Davinder Singh, Salam Ranjan Singh, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Mohd. Sajid Dhot, Jerry Lalrinzuala.

Midfielders: Nikhil Poojary, Isaac Vanmalswama, Nandha Kumar, Vinit Rai, Germanpreet Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan, Vignesh D.

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Forwards: Sumit Passi, Hitesh Sharma, Manvir Singh, Farukh Choudhary.

Reserves: Lalruatthara, Rohit Kumar.

–IANS

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