[India], Mar 8 (ANI): The Indian U-23 national team departed for Qatar after a five-day preparatory camp, in which coach Derrick Pereira zeroed in on the list of 23 players for the clash against the U-23 side of reigning AFC Asian Cup Champions Qatar at the Aspire Academy ground in Doha on March 11.
With 11 players coming from the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) developmental side, the Indian Arrows that participated in the I-League and notched up some bright results under their belt including a win against Mohun Bagan, Derrick is aiming to build for the future with the core of the squad coming from the Arrows project.
"They (young players) are our future. It is not only about the match against Qatar or the U-23 Championship qualifiers. We should have a long term plan for them so that they can excel in future. The experience of representing the nation in the U17 FIFA World Cup would help them improve on and off the pitch. If they are provided with the right kind of experience and exposure regularly, India football will go a long way," Pereira said.
Incidentally, India faced Qatar in the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers of the previous edition at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on July 21, 2017.
Almoez Ali, who broke Ali Daei's record of scoring the highest number of goals in a single edition of AFC Asian Cup recently, scored the solitary goal for the Gulf nation to pip India that day.
"We are primarily focusing on finding the right combination and our style of game. Uzbekistan are the reigning U-23 Asian champions and Tajikistan are a respectable side as well who we are going to face in the qualifiers. We can gauge ourselves after the Qatar game and as I have said, we will focus more on our game rather than our opponents,” the coach said.
Following is the 23-member squad:
Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Prabhsukhan Gill
Defenders: Narender, Sarthak Golui, Wungngayam Muirang, Mehtab Singh, Anwar Ali, Asish Rai
Midfielders: Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul, Amarjit Singh, Deepak Tangri, Rohit Kumar, Suresh Singh, Komal Thatal, Boris Singh, Rahul KP
Forwards: Liston Colaco, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Rahim Ali, Rohit Danu. (ANI)