Mumbai: Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine feels the four-nation Intercontinental Cup at the Mumbai Football Arena here is important for the preparation and development of players ahead of the AFC Asian Cup next year.
India face Chinese Taipei on June 1, in the tournament also featuring New Zealand and Kenya.
“It is a very important tournament for preparation and development of the players.
“We have always tried to have friendly games against better teams but obviously they are reluctant to play us just like we don’t want to play smaller teams. We have always learned more while playing better teams and is good New Zealand are coming here and also Chinese Taipei. Playing any African team is challenging,” he said.
Kenya replaced 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa who were initially supposed to represent Africa in the event.
The summoned 30 players assembled for the Camp in Mumbai on May 16 while players from JSW Bengaluru FC will report after finishing their club commitments at the AFC Cup. Midfielder Dhanapal Ganesh was replaced by Vineet Rai after he went down with typhoid.
Criticised for ignoring ISL and I-League performances, Constantine said he picks players who can do well against good teams.
“I have picked players who did well in the League but some of them haven’t been able to keep the standards during the training camps. It is different playing in the league and at international level. I pick players who I feel can sustain against good teams. When I started (the second tenure) we had average age of 31 and 32. I gave debuts to 37 young players and now we have half the squad U-23 who can be there for next 5-6 years. It is always about giving opportunity to young players at the right time and moment,” Constantine said.
Lalruatthara, the 23-year-old left-back from Mizoram who was with Kerala Blasters in ISL and made his debut for India on March 27 against Kyrgyzstan in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, said it was dream for him.
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vishal Kaith, Amrinder Singh, Sanjiban Ghosh. Defenders: Lalruatthara, Davinder Singh, Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Salam Ranjan Singh, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Narayan Das, Subhasish Bose. Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Laldanmawia Ralte, Seiminlen Doungel, Vineet Rai, Souvik Chakraborti, Md. Rafique, Rowllin Borges, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Bikash Jairu, Halicharan Narzary. Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Manvir Singh, Alen Deory, Ashique Kuruniyan....