Bhutia named skipper; Rafi axed

Apart from the omission of the Churchill Brothers striker, selection was on expected lines as there was not much option left after injury hit several key players during the nearly two-month long camp in Dubai since early November.

Bhutia himself is yet to fully recover from the right leg calf muscle injury and sports medicine expert from Chennai, Kannan Pugazendhi, is now in Dubai to treat the skipper.

Out of the eight players left out of the squad from the 31 who were in the camp, three — Dempo left back Sameer Naik, Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya and Dempo winger Anthony Pereira —  are injured.

The other five players left out were Churchill Brothers striker Rafi, midfielder James Lukram and defender N Mohanraj — both from Mohun Bagan, East Bengal striker Baljit Sahni and JCT midfielder Jagpreet Singh.

The Indian team will reach Doha on January 6 and will play Australia in their Group C opening match on January 10. India’s next match will be against Bahrain on January 14 while they take on South Korea on January 18. Meanwhile, Raul Carmo Fernandez, the managing director of Gulf International Promotions, has been appointed manager of the Indian team in place of Pradip Chowdhury who had returned home after a tiff with coach Bob Houghton.

Squad: Goalkeepers: Subrata Pal, Subhasish Roy Choudhury, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Defenders: Surkumar Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Anwar, Mahesh Gawli, Syed Rahim Nabi, Deepak Mondal, NS Manju, Rakesh Masih and Govin Singh.
Midfielders: Steven Dias, NP Pradeep, Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Renedy Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Baldeep Singh.
Forwards: Bhaichung Bhutia (capt), Sunil Chhetri, Abhishek Yadav and Sushil Kumar Singh.

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