AFC Asian Cup 2019: Indian team player profile

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Bengaluru, January 2: The much-awaited AFC Asian Cup, the continent's showpiece event, will be played in four cities of the United Arab Emirates from January 5 to February 1.

India have been clubbed in Group A along side Thailand, Bahrain and hosts UAE. They play their first match on Sunday against Thailand here, followed by games against UAE (Abu Dhabi) and Bahrain (Sharjah) on January 10 and 14 respectively.

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Ranked 15th in Asia, India played against three quality sides -- China, Oman and Jordan -- in their build-up to the Asian Cup. The Stephen Constantine-coached side drew goal-less against China and Oman and lost to Jordan 1-2.

China (76th) and Oman (82nd) are ranked higher than India (97th) while Jordan are below a few rungs down at 109th.

Here's a profile of the 23-member Indian squad:


Name: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Club: Bengaluru

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 26

Ever since making the move to Indian Super League (ISL) team Bengaluru from Norwegian club Stabæk in 2017, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has had a fine run both for the club and country. He is the first-choice in between the sticks for coach Stephen Constantine and has put in some memorable performances for India over the years.

Gurpreet's height combined with good decision-making allows him to cover a wider frame and makes him a safe bet for balls inside the box.

In two Hero ISL seasons, Gurpreet has made 30 appearances and has conceded just 25 goals and made 76 saves. He has played for East Bengal before leaving for Norway and has 29 caps for Indian national team.

Name: Amrinder Singh

Club: Mumbai City FC

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 25

Amrinder Singh started his career as a striker before his coach noticed that his stature is made for goalkeeping. The Punjab-born has always played second fiddle to Gurpreet Singh Sandhu at the national level.

He has represented Pune FC, ATK and Bengaluru FC in the past, featuring in the AFC Cup semifinals with the latter. The Mumbai City shot-stopper is currently one of the best in the country and boasts incredibly good reflexes.

Name: Vishal Kaith

Club: Pune City

Position: Goalkeeper

Age: 22

Vishal Kaith is an exciting prospect in between the sticks, with his performances for Pune City earning him widespread acclaim. He is good with his reflexes and in the air, and his traits consolidate his position in the Indian squad as an able back-up to Gurpreet Singh.

Kaith has seven clean sheets in 21 appearances in his ISL career. He was the first-choice goalkeeper for India at the 2018 SAFF Championship and started all four games, managing two clean sheets.


Name: Pritam Kotal

Club: ATK

Position: Right back

Age: 25

A product of the Tata Football Academy (TFA), Kotal has established himself as the first-choice right back for India in the last three years. The West Bengal native has plied his trade at Mohun Bagan, FC Pune City, ATK and Delhi Dynamos. Pritam has come back to ATK for the rest of current ISL season. Capable of slotting into the left side of defence too if required, Kotal is a fullback who loves to venture forward with overlapping runs and can be a decent offensive outlet from his flank.

Name: Sarthak Golui

Club: Pune City

Position: Defender

Age: 21

Sarthak Golui, who plays right-back, is known for his marauding runs up and down the flank. He is a workhorse who is prepared to bomb forward in attack and make one overlapping run after another to support his teammates.

The tenacious full-back has been playing for Pune City for the last two ISL seasons and has established himself as a first-team regular at his position. He has one goal and four assists to his name in 21 appearances.

Name: Sandesh Jhingan

Club: Kerala Blasters

Position: Defender- Centre/Right-Back

Age: 25

Chandigarh-born Sandesh Jhingan has been one of the most consistent performers for both his club and country in recent years. He has spent his entire Hero ISL career with Kerala Blasters so far, racking up 70 appearances and four assists over the course.

Jhingan is a physically strong and tall defender who adopts an aggressive and no-nonsense approach on the field. He is also adept at right-back, making him invaluable for the Indian national team.

Name: Anas Edathodika

Club: Kerala Blasters

Position: Defender - Centre-Back

Age: 31

Hailing from Malappuram, the hotbed of football in Kerala, Anas Edathodika got his break with Mumbai FC in 2007. He signed for the Hero ISL side Delhi Dynamos in 2015.

In 2017, he was picked up by Jamshedpur FC through the player draft and the 2018-19 season saw his homecoming to Kerala Blasters. Anas has managed 37 appearances in the Hero ISL and has scored one goal.

With 15 caps for India in a short period, the Keralite has earned a first-team spot alongside Sandesh Jhingan at centre-back under coach Stephen Constantine. His reading of the game and composure at the back will be vital assets for the Blue Tigers in UAE.

Name: Salam Ranjan Singh

Club: East Bengal

Position: Defender

Age: 23

The Manipur born is a graduate from the Pune FC academy and made his professional debut in the 2013-14 edition of the I-League. The defender spent three years there, which included a loan spell at Bengaluru FC. He is currently plying his trade with East Bengal and is the only player from I-League in the national team fold.

He was excellent for India against Jordan in a recent friendly and is a good backup in defence.

Name: Subhasish Bose

Club: Mumbai City FC

Position: Defender

Age: 23

Subhasish Bose is a product of the Pune FC youth academy who made his professional debut for Sporting Clube de Goa in the I-League in 2016. The youngster went on to represent some big guns like Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC before being roped in by Mumbai City.

Born in Kolkata, he can play as a centre-back if required but is most comfortable in his natural position as left-back.

Name: Narayan Das

Club: Delhi Dynamos FC

Position: Left back

Age : 25

Narayan is a West Bengal native who came through the ranks of the Tata Football Academy (TFA). The left-footed defender has undergone stints at Pailan Arrows, East Bengal, Dempo, FC Pune City and FC Goa before arriving at the national capital in the summer.

The left back made his India debut all the way back in 2013 and has established himself as a mainstay in Stephen Constantine's side in recent years.


Name: Udanta Singh

Club: Bengaluru FC

Position: Right wing

Age: 22

Another product of the prestigious Tata Football Academy (TFA), Udanta Singh is a speedy winger with bags of tricks up his sleeves. The Manipur-born winger has been a mainstay for Bengaluru FC ever since their inception in 2013.

A winger who can beat his man at will, Udanta also has an eye for goal and can score the occasional beauty. After a slow start, the winger has burst into life with three goals to show for in the first half of the 2018-19 Hero Indian Super League.

Name: Rowllin Borges

Club: NorthEast United FC

Position: Central midfielder, Defensive midfielder

Age: 26

Having emerged through the ranks at Sporting Clube de Goa, Borges has quickly established himself as one of the top defensive midfielders in the country. After five seasons with Sporting, the Goan native moved to NorthEast United in 2016 and has become a key figure for the Guwahati-based club.

Borges played a key role in India's AFC Asian Cup qualification campaign and bagged a goal in the win against Macau. He has been in excellent form for NorthEast in the current season with two goals and as many assists in 12 appearances so far.

Name: Anirudh Thapa

Club: Chennaiyin

Position: Midfielder - Centre

Age: 20

Dehradun-born Anirudh Thapa broke into the football scene with ISL team Chennaiyin in 2016. A short loan stint at Minerva Punjab later, Thapa quickly became a first-team regular in midfield for the Marina Machans.

His vision and passing range make him a trump card in a double pivot. For India, he has also shown that he can play further forward as an attacking midfielder when required. He likes to dictate the tempo of the game and has an eye for incisive passes. He has two goals and three assists in 29 appearances in the ISL. He has 13 caps for India and is now part of a formidable midfield pivot with Pronay Halder.

Name: Vinit Rai

Club: Delhi Dynamos

Position: Midfielder

Age: 21

The Assam-born midfielder has been touted as one of the best midfield prospects of the country. Rai started his ISL career with Kerala Blasters in 2016 before making the move to Delhi Dynamos where he has enjoyed a fruitful spell.

Technically sound and comfortable with the ball at his feet, Vinit has the ability to control the tempo of games from midfield. He has started only four matches for his club this season but is slowly carving out a regular role with the national team Stephen Constantine, having impressed in the recently concluded 2018 SAFF Championship in Bangladesh.

Name: Halicharan Narzary

Club: Kerala Blasters

Position: Forward - Left/Right Winger

Age: 24

The 24-year-old Halicharan Narzary is a fleet-footed forward and a willing runner who likes to operate from the flanks. He started out with Indian Arrows and joined FC Goa in 2014.

He left Goa to join NorthEast United in 2015 and played for the Highlanders for three seasons. Presently with Kerala Blasters, the winger has made 43 appearances in the ISL with five goals and an assist to his name.

He has been a mainstay in the Indian national team under Stephen Constantine in the last few years. Having made his debut in 2015, he has recorded 23 caps and scored one goal.

Name: Ashique Kuruniyan

Club: FC Pune City

Position: Midfielder

Age: 22

Kuruniyan is one of the few players in the Indian squad who have had a training stint in Europe with Villarreal 'C' team. He has since gone on to evolve his game and has established himself in the national fold.

The winger made his national team debut against Chinese Taipei in the Intercontinental Cup in 2018. The 22-year-old can stretch the field or cut inside and has been given a great opportunity to establish himself by Pradhyum Reddy at FC Pune City.

Name: Germanpreet Singh

Club: Chennaiyin FC

Position: Midfielder

Age: 22

Germanpreet Singh broke into the football scene after graduating from the renowned Tata Football Academy. He shone for Chennaiyin in the 2017-18 ISL and was an integral part of John Gregory's team that won the trophy.

The midfielder likes to keep things simple with his passing and is always up for hard work in midfield. He screens the defence well and closes space for the opponents to operate. He has three caps for India.

Name: Jackichand Singh

Club: FC Goa

Position: Midfielder

Age: 26

Jackichand was one of the key figures behind Royal Wahingdoh's dream run in the I-League. Thereafter, the Manipur-born went on to play for a host of clubs and is currently at FC Goa. Jackichand has been showing great strides in his development under Sergio Lobera and has two goals and as many assists this season.

The pacey winger has been a key part of Stephen Constantine's plans since 2015 and will be looking to continue his good form in the UAE.

Name: Pronay Halder

Club: ATK

Position: Midfielder

Age: 25

Midfielder Pronay Halder has made the midfield in India's starting lineups his own in recent years. His resolute approach to football has earned him plaudits as well. After stints with FC Goa and Mumbai City, Halder moved to ATK and has thrived in a tough-tackling midfield role under Steve Coppell in the 2018-19 season.

He has formed a solid partnership in a double pivot with Anirudh Thapa and will have an important role in breaking up the opposition's attacks at the Asian Cup. He has 11 caps for the country and has scored one goal.


Name: Sunil Chhetri

Club: Bengaluru FC

Position: Centre forward, Left wing

Age: 34

The undisputed talisman of the national team, Chhetri's is a name which needs no introduction to Indian football. A long-standing servant of the Blue Tigers, Chhetri is the all-time topscorer for India.

Capable of providing the decisive impact at any moment, Chhetri keeps getting better with age and is as complete a centre-forward as they come. The Delhi-born forward has played for both the Kolkata giants in a trophy-laden career and has undertaken overseas stints at Sporting Lisbon B and the Major League Soccer (MLS) before becoming the lynchpin at Bengaluru.

Name: Jeje Lalpekhlua

Club: Chennaiyin FC

Position: Forward - Centre

Age: 27

Jeje Lalpekhlua is an excellent finisher of moves and is a goalscoring threat in front of goal.

Starting with Pune FC, the Mizoram-born striker climbed his way up the ladder with sheer dedication and commitment. He joined Chennaiyin in 2014 and has played in all Hero ISL seasons for the Marina Machans.

Jeje has 22 goals and seven assists from 64 Hero ISL appearances so far. He is a two-time Hero ISL champion with Chennaiyin and an I-League winner with Mohun Bagan. He has 52 caps for India with 20 goals to his name and is a sure-shot to lead the attack for the Blue Tigers at the AFC Asian Cup.

Name: Sumeet Passi

Club: Jamshedpur FC

Position: Striker

Age: 24

A graduate of the famed Chandigarh Football Academy, Sumeet Passi made his debut for the national team in 2016 against Laos in an Asian Cup qualifier game. He has since gone on to join Jamshedpur FC and has scored two goals in the ISL this season.

He is a hard-working centre-forward and his proficiency at hold-up play, bursting pace and good movement, renders him a promising prospect.

Name: Balwant Singh

Club: ATK

Position: Centre forward, Left wing

Age: 32

The Hoshiarpur-born striker is a grafter in the truest sense who is a constant nuisance for the opposition defenders. Having broken through the ranks at JCT, the 32-year-old has some big clubs on his CV in the form of Salgaocar, Churchill Brothers and Mohun Bagan.

Having waited a long time to make his India debut, Balwant took his opportunity with both hands by registering a goal against Mauritius in his first outing in India colours. He has been going from strength to strength since then and is now a key player in Constantine's plans.

Source: ISL Media

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