Indian football head coach Igor Stimac on Sunday named six newcomers in the final list of 23 players for the King’s Cup, to be held in Buriram, Thailand from June 5.
The six newcomers include Rahul Bheke, Brandon Fernandes, Raynier Fernandes, Michael Soosairaj, Abdul Sahal and India U-17 World Cup team captain Amarjit Singh.
Meanwhile, Adil Khan has made a comeback to the squad post 2012, while goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh is yet to make his international debut.
“We had to make the difficult decision about the remaining two slots in the squad, and eventually, Nishu Kumar and Jobby Justin were released,” the coach informed.
The team leaves for Thailand on Sunday and will have an overnight stay in Bangkok tonight. They will fly to Buriram on Monday morning.
India will play Curacao in their first match of King’s Cup on June 5, while the second match is slated for June 8.
“We accomplished our work in Delhi, and I would like to use this opportunity to appreciate everyone’s involvement in helping us in doing so,” Stimac said.
“I need to thank AIFF, the players, the media, the hotel authorities, and obviously the Sports Authority for providing us with great training facilities,” he added.
Central defender Sandesh Jhingan said everyone thoroughly enjoyed the camp, and are all pumped up.
“The coach has brought in his new system. We are playing more with the ball now — more of an attacking side of football. With the success we have had before, players are motivated. They believe they can do more. Everyone is hungry for more success,” Jhingan said.
He felt it is always a bonus for a player if the coach has played in his position.
“He was a central defender who has played in the FIFA World Cup France 1998 where Croatia finished third, and has played League football at the highest level, and also been a youth world champion.
“I have spoken to him about areas I want to improve on, and he has stressed on certain factors. It’s always so encouraging to have the right connection,” said Jhingan.
Goalkepeer Gurpreet Singh Sandhu praised the coach, saying “Stimac is a hard core professional”.
“It’s very important for a coach to be honest, and he is very straightforward. Most significantly, he provides all the proper reasoning of what he is trying to do, the purpose behind everything which is being done,” Sandhu said.
“The kind of hunger the boys are showing to learn from such an experienced coach has been exemplary. Whatever he says, it interests us, and the boys are never tired of listening to him. He is incorporating his ideas, and we are ready to learn.”
Midfielder Pronoy Halder admitted that he has improved significantly under Stimac.
“He has been guiding me on, and off the ball, explaining my positioning as per match situations. He is a great motivator, and is himself highly motivated.
“He mentions that we can bridge the gap with higher nations, but we need to work hard on that,” said Halder.
“At times we imagine the names he has coached – Mordic, Perisic, Kovacic, amongst others. It is up for us to grab as much as we can,” he added.
The preparatory camp had kicked-off in the Capital on May 21.
The final list of 23:
Goalkeeper: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Subhasish Bose.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Pronay Halder, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul, Amarjit Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Michael Soosairaj.
Forwards: Balwant Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh.