The whole world is looking towards South Africa with the 2010 FIFA World Cup entering its decisive phase. Who will inherit the title of world champions from Italy? But for the Indian national football team finally it's the start into its six month long preparations for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup to be played in Qatar in January 2011.
The squad leaves for Lisbon in Portugal tonight for a two month long preparatory camp which will set the physical basis for the team ahead of the tough assignments coming up early next year. India face South Korea, Australia and Bahrain in a the group of death; and South Korea and Australia have shown in the World Cup what they are capable off. But India can take heart from the performances of numerous minnows at the World Cup. The football world has moved closer, hopefully the same can be said in January about Asian football.
But not all the 30 probables will make the trip. Not part of the squad will be Sunil Chhetri, who will remain in the US to play for his club side Kansas City Wizards; while goalkeeper Subrata Pal and defender Gouramangi Singh part of the squad after failing in their North American and Australian trials respectively.
In some really good news Bob Houghton will remain coach of the team at least until the end of the Asian Cup. What happens thereafter will have to be seen.
Subrata Pal, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Arindam Bhattacharya
Anwar, Mahesh Gawli, Deepak Mondal, Nanjangud Shivananju Manju, Samir Naik, Nallappan Mohanraj, Irungbam Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, Govin Moirangthem Singh
Steven Benedic Dias, Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Rakesh Masih, Syed Rahim Nabi, Anthony Pereira, Naduparambil Pappachan Pradeep, Baldeep Singh, Jagpreet Singh, Lukram James Singh, Potsangbam Renedy Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo
Baichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, M. Mohammed Rafi, Sushil Kumar Singh, Baljit Singh Sahni, Abhishek Yadav