Chhetri to lead attack in Nehru Cup, Jeje dropped

Portugal-returned Sunil Chhetri will expectedly lead the attack but his strike partner Jeje Lalpekhlua will be missed as he failed to figure in national football coach Wim Koevermans’ 20-man squad for the Nehru Cup amid speculation that the young striker is not match-fit.

Midfielders Joaquim Abranches and Rocus Lamare were the other notable names missing, with the Dutchman preferring to go with promising under-22 players Alwyn George and Manandeep Singh.

Once touted as the future of Indian football after his exploits in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers last year, Jeje did not play a full match in the AFC U-22 Championship in Muscat.

In the first game against Lebanon, the talented striker from Mizoram had to be substituted after 20 minutes of play, while he could come only towards the end in the latter matches.

“The coach does not seem to be too convinced about his fitness. Moreover, he could not play as much as he would have liked to in the under-22 championship,” a source close to the team said.

The core squad remains more or less the same with the likes of Gouramangi Singh, Syed Rahim Nabi, Clifford Miranda, Mehtab Hossain and Nirmal Chetri expected to lead the youngsters in the tournament beginning on Wednesday and that includes teams such as Cameroon and Syria.

As far as the formation is concerned, it will be a departure from Bob Houghton’s 4-4-2 configuration. The 1988 European Cup-winning coach is most likely going to employ a 4-2-3-1 formation with Chhetri being the lone man upfront.

“I’m confident in the abilities of my boys,” Koevermans stressed.

“The practice sessions have been good. It’s nice to see the boys pushing each other,” he added.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” said a delighted Alwyn. “The camp sessions have been an education for me and I’m maturing fast as a player.”

Manandeep, who had made his senior India debut earlier this year, said: “This is a new challenge for me. As a player, one needs to be flexible to adjust oneself in different situations. I’m trying my best and learning at every step.”

Defending champions India take on Syria in the opening match of the tournament.

The squad: Goalkeepers: Subrata Pal, Subhasish Roychowdhury, Karanjeet Singh.

Defenders: Nirmal Chhetri, Denzil Franco, Gourmangi Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Syed Rahim Nabi. Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues, Mehtab Hossain, Jewel Raja, Francis Fernandes, Alwyn George, Anthony Pereira, Sanju Pradhan, Clifford Miranda.

Forwards: Robin Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Manandeep Singh.

Comments (+)