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Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan, Gurpreet Sandhu names in India’s squad for Asian Games

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By India Today Sports Desk: India have named their men’s football squad for the Asian Games, set to be played in Hangzhou, China. India senior men’s team head coach Igor Stimac on Tuesday, 1 August, announced a 22-member squad for the 19th Asian Games which will be held from September 19 to October 7, 2023.

India captain Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will be the three senior team members in the squad, which will primarily be filled with U-23 players. Asian Games allows only 3 senior players to be drafted in the squad in what is majorly a U-23 competition.

The India Men’s team are placed alongside hosts China PR, Bangladesh, and Myanmar in Group A. There are 23 teams, who have been divided into six groups. Group A, B, C, E, and F have four teams each while Group D has three teams. Twice Asian Games champions India are participating in the football event of the continental games for the first time after nine years.

The announcement of the squad comes following a period of uncertainty, the Indian men’s and women’s football teams were allowed to compete in the 2023 Asian Games. The games are scheduled to take place in Hangzhou, China, from September 19 to October 7.

This positive development was a result of the Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ decision to soften its stance on the eligibility criteria for national sports federations wishing to send their teams to the Games at the government’s expense.

Previously, the ministry had communicated to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and other national sports federations that only those teams which had achieved a ranking within the top eight among participating Asian countries in the past year would be considered for participation in the Asian Games.

“The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, has decided to relax the rules to facilitate participation of both the teams, which were not qualifying as per the existing criterion,” Indian sports minister Anurag Thakur had said. “Keeping in mind their performances in recent times, the Ministry decided to grant the relaxation.”

The IOA had refused to clear the Indian football teams from playing at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta based on the same ranking criteria.

“It’s indeed an important day for Indian football and a testament to our resolution to develop the sport in India,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey had said earlier. “Indian football has been on an unprecedented rise recently, and I believe this impetus will further boost our players’ morale in all upcoming events.”

Indian men’s football squad for Asian Games

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

Defenders: Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Narender Gahlot, Lalchungnunga, Akash Mishra, Roshan Singh, Ashish Rai.

Midfielders: Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Apuia Ralte, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Rahul KP, Naorem Mahesh Singh.

Forwards: Siva Sakthi Narayanan, Rahim Ali, Aniket Jadhav, Vikram Partap Singh, Rohit Danu, Sunil Chhetri.

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