Bob Houghton has named Sunil Chhetri as India's new captain for the qualifiers of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup to be played next week in Kuala Lumpur. In the Malaysian capital India will face Chinese Taipei (March 21), Pakistan (March 23) and Turkmenistan (March 25) in the Group B qualifiers. The top two teams from the group would move into the AFC Challenge Cup proper.
Senior players are being rested by Bob Houghton, so players like Sunil Chhetri, Gouramnagi Singh, Subrata Pal and Steven Dias will have to prove that they are ready to carry the Indian national team. Bob Houghton will also get a chance to test youngsters with talented players like Raju Gaekwad and Jeje Lalpekhulua set for their first international start tomorrow and they will have to prove that they are ready for senior competition.
For India the qualifiers are crucial as they would have to be amongst the top two teams to qualify for the final round, which India could host next year and then try to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup to be played in Australia.
Subroto Pal (Pune FC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Indian Arrows), Jagroop Singh (Indian Arrows)
Anwar (Mohun Bagan AC), Nirmal Chetri (East Bengal Club), Denzil Franco (Churchill Brothers SC), Raju Gaekwad (Indian Arrows), N.S. Manju (United Sikkim FC), Nalappan Mohanraj (Mohun Bagan AC), Syed Rahim Nabi (East Bengal Club), Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (Churchill Brothers SC), Govin Moirangthem Singh (Salgaocar SC)
Joaquim Abranches (Dempo SC), Shilton D'Silva (Indian Arrows), Steven Benedic Dias (Churchill Brothers SC), Rakesh Masih (Mohun Bagan AC), Jewel Sheikh Raja (Indian Arrows), Baldeep Singh (Salgaocar SC), Jagpreet Singh (JCT)
Sunil Chhetri (Chirag United SC, Captain), Jeje Lalpekhulua (Indian Arrows), C.S. Sabeeth (Viva Kerala), Sushil Kumar Singh (East Bengal Club)
Chief Coach: Robert Douglas Houghton; Assistant Coach: Savio Medeira; Goalkeeping Coach: Marcos Anthony Pacheco; Physical Trainer: Suresh Babu Kavuluri; Doctor: Dr. Kiran Kumar Kulkarni; Physiotherapist: Gigy George; Masseur: Liyaqat Ali; Media Officer: Brij Mohan Mehta; Manager: Mandhar Tamhane