Stimac names 38 probables for India’s two friendlies in Bahrain, match against Belarus ‘on as of now’

NEW DELHI: Eight new faces figured in Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac’s list of 38 probables named on Friday for the preparatory camp ahead of the two international friendly matches to be played in Manama, Bahrain later this month.
Goalkeepers Prabhshukhan Gill and Mohammad Nawaz, defenders Deepak Tangri and Roshan Singh, and midfielders Vikram Partap Singh, VP Suhair, Aniket Jadav and Jerry Mawihmingthanga got their maiden national camp call-up for the matches against Bahrain (March 23) and Belarus (March 26).
There is still a cloud of uncertainty whether India will play against Belarus on March 26 as the All India Football Federation had said on Tuesday that it was trying to “avoid” playing against the east European country which had extended support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
FIFA has suspended Russia but has not announced any such measure for Belarus as yet.
On Thursday, European football governing body UEFA barred Belarus from hosting international games but it will have no impact on India’s international friendly.
“The match (against Belarus) is still on as of now. If FIFA bans Belarus, the match stands cancelled, we cannot play them in that case. But as of now Belarus is not banned,” an AIFF source said.
The preparatory camp will start in Pune from March 10. The players whose clubs would be playing in the semifinals of the ongoing Indian Super League will be joining the camp as and when their club commitments end.
The list will be pruned later and the Indian squad will depart for Bahrain on March 21.
The two international friendlies in Manama are part of the Indian team’s preparations for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup third round qualifiers to be played in Kolkata in June.
Stimac said “playing against better teams is the best way to improve our own game.”
“We need to show some resilience and creativity. The two matches should enable our players to mature, and gain more experience against stronger sides. —PTI
“But for all of them, it’s the start of the competition to gain that coveted place in the starting line-up for the June qualifiers.”
He commended the ISL and I-League organisers for their “super organisational capabilities” to stage the two events under current circumstances.
“I have been watching every single game and admiring the boys for giving everything they have for their clubs. It’s been terrible for everyone involved since the pandemic started, but the job needs to be done.”

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