India's Asian Games Squad Finally Grows to Full Strength with Key Additions


India’s Asian Games Squad Finally Grows to Full Strength with Key Additions

Football, Football News

New Delhi, India – After days of uncertainty surrounding the composition of India’s Asian Games squad, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has successfully expanded the roster to a customary 22-member squad, with the inclusion of crucial players like Sandesh Jhingan and Chinglensana Singh. The federation has also confirmed that head coach Igor Stimac will accompany the team to China, providing much-needed stability ahead of the opening group game against China scheduled for Tuesday.

The initial announcement of a 17-member squad led by captain Sunil Chhetri had left fans and experts concerned, given the lack of depth in certain positions, particularly in defense. With only two specialist defenders initially named, there were concerns about the team’s ability to compete effectively in the tournament.

However, the AIFF has managed to address these concerns by persuading key players, Sandesh Jhingan and Chinglensana Singh, to join the Asian Games squad. Both players bring valuable experience to the team, especially in defense, which was a vulnerable area in the initial squad. Sandesh Jhingan, a regular for the senior national team, and Chinglensana Singh, who has also been a regular in the national set-up, strengthen the central defense, providing much-needed depth in that crucial area.

The addition of Chinglensana Singh also offers an opportunity for healthy competition within the squad, as he aims to challenge the established central defensive partnership of Sandesh Jhingan and Anwar Ali. This competition for positions can prove beneficial for India’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers and the Asian Cup in January.

However, despite the positive developments in central defense, concerns remain regarding the flanks and the midfield. India will have to rely on Amarjit Singh Kiyam in central midfield, a player who gained recognition during the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup. Currently contracted to East Bengal, Kiyam played primarily in India’s third division, and his playing time in the Indian Super League (ISL) has been limited.

The challenge in the midfield lies in managing senior players like Sunil Chhetri and Sandesh Jhingan’s playing time to ensure they remain fresh for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and the Asian Cup in early 2024. The proximity of fixtures, with India playing China U23 and Bangladesh U23 in quick succession, requires careful planning to maximize the impact of these experienced players.

Former Shillong Lajong, Bengaluru FC, and Pune City coach Pradhyum Reddy expressed that foresight during the off-season could have resulted in a better-prepared Asian Games squad. He suggested that the AIFF could have formed a U23 team during the off-season and held a camp to prepare them for the tournament, avoiding the last-minute scramble to assemble a squad.

Reddy emphasized the importance of having players in positions they are accustomed to playing, citing the challenge of U23 players often playing different roles for their clubs compared to the national team’s requirements.

Despite these challenges, head coach Igor Stimac expressed his gratitude to Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) and the AIFF for securing the inclusion of experienced players in the squad. Stimac emphasized that the addition of these players would bolster the team’s chances in the Asian Games.

As India prepares to kick off its Asian Games campaign, the expanded squad and the presence of experienced players bring hope and optimism to fans. The tournament provides an opportunity for India’s emerging talents to shine on the continental stage and build valuable experience for the future.

The football world will be watching closely as India’s young talents, alongside their experienced counterparts, aim to make a mark in the Asian Games and set the stage for future success in international football.


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