Team India announced the men’s football squad for the upcoming Hangzhou Asian Games 2022. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday, September 13, announced a revised 17-member squad, scheduled to represent India in Hangzhou, the People’s Republic of China, from September 23 to October 8.
Earlier in August, AIFF had announced a 22-member squad, including ace striker Sunil Chhetri. However, the team has now been cut to a 17-member squad.
In the revised squad, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defender Sandesh Jhingan, have been left out from the final list. Apart from Sunil Chhetri, both were senior players in the squad. Sunil Chhetri, however, will play.
Why the revised squad?
Since 2002, the men’s football event at the Asian Games has been an under-23 event. Each team is only allowed a maximum of three players above 23 years of age.
The revised list was announced after Indian clubs reportedly expressed concerns over releasing players for the continental meet with a busy football schedule on the cards, both on the domestic and international fronts.
According to AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey, the Indian football team has had a hectic season. “It has been a hectic time for Indian football season this time. We have a tight schedule within a short period of time that was not easy to manage. There have been too many things happening, both at the domestic and the international level, involving India’s national teams, as well as the ISL clubs,” he said.
The change in the squad has been made due to certain situations which were unavoidable and demanded a great balancing act.
The Draw and Squad
The Indian team has been drawn in Group A alongside hosts China, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Squad: Gurmeet Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Sumit Rathi, Narender Gahlot, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Samuel James, Rahul KP, Abdul Rabeeh Anjukandan, Ayush Dev Chhetri, Bryce Miranda, Azfar Noorani, Rahim Ali, Vincy Bareto, Sunil Chhetri, Rohit Danu, Gurkirat Singh, Aniket Jadhav
Union Sports Minister Anurag Singh Thakur on July 26 announced the participation of both the men’s and women’s team in the upcoming Asian Games at Hangzhou. The Sports Minister said, “Our national football teams, both Men’s and Women’s, are set to participate in the upcoming Asian Games.” He went on to explain that the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, decided to relax the rules to facilitate participation of both the teams, which were not qualifying as per the existing criterion. He also cited that the latest performances of the teams in the recent times led the Ministry to grant the relaxation.
India last participated in the football event of the Games in 2014. The men’s team finished 26th among the 29 teams, and the women ninth among 11.