The Indian Men's and Women's football teams will be action in the upcoming South Asian Games 2016, to be held in Shillong and Guwahati from 5 February.
Football is set to be one of the 23 sports in the 20-day event, which was originally scheduled to be held in New Delhi in 2014. While the Men's competition is scheduled to take place from 6 February to 15 February, the Women's competition is scheduled from 7 February to 15 February.
Also, while the Indian Women's football senior team will be fielded in the South Asian Games, the Men's football team will feature U-23 players.
A provisional 28-member men's squad was announced by AIFF on Tuesday with Lee Johnson as head coach of the India U-23 side. The list will come down to 20, the announcement of which will come just prior to the start of the competition.
"We have imbibed a new setup for the U-23 National Team and most of the players are new," Johnson was quoted by the AIFF official site as saying. "The lads understand the importance of the competition and they remain focused on emulating the success of the senior team."
The list of probables for the Men's U-23 team:
Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Rehenesh Paramba, Kamaljit Singh. Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Narayan Das, Kaushik Sarkar, Bikramjit Singh, Abhishek Das, Nikhil Poojary, Samad Ali Mallik, Prabir Das, Aiborlang Khongjee. Midfielders: Sumit Passi, Jayesh Rane, Pronoy Halder, Amoes Thiruvanathanadhah, Lallialzuala Chhangte, Germanpreet Singh, Mawihmingthanga, Zodingliana, Rowlin Borges, Vinit Rai, Udanta Singh. Forwards: Halicharan Narzary, T. Haokip, Salam Ranjan Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua.
The Women's senior team will have Sajid Dar as head coach, and with the star-studded squad featuring the likes of West Ham Ladies goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan and the legendary Indian face of Women's football, Bembem Devi, Dar feels the Indian eves have all the chance to winning the competition.
Although Manipuri footballer Bembem Devi had said she would retire right at the start of the new calendar year, the AIFF have still included her in the list of 20 players, since there was no official confirmation received by the football governing body from the player of her retirement, according to the TOI.
"We have with us an able group of players who can go on and win this tournament. At the same time, we respect our opponents and have to take one match at a time," Sajid Dar was quoted by the AIFF as saying. "Focus and concentration stays the key in tournaments, and we have to remain switched on throughout the matches if we are to win the [12th South] Asian Games."
The list of 20 players for Women's Team:
Goalkeepers: Aditi Chauhan, Roshini Devi, Panthoi Chanu. Defenders: Ashalata Devi, Radharani Devi, Manisa Panna, Supriya Routray, Umapati Devi, Dalima Chibber. Midfielders: Bembem Devi, Premi Devi, Sangita Basfore, Margaret Devi, Sasmita Malik, Prameshwori Devi, Sanju. Forwards: Bala Devi, Dangmei Grace, Kamala Devi, Pyari Xaxa