Our Special Correspondent
New Delhi: Midfielders Arata Izumi of Pune FC and Vineet CK of Prayag United are the two new faces in the 23-member national squad for the friendly tie against Palestine.
The match will be played at the Nehru Stadium in Kochi on February 6.
Veteran goalkeeper Sandeep Nandy has made a comeback to the team on the strength of his fine performances for Churchill Brothers in the ongoing I-League. Thirty-year-old Arata became the first foreign footballer to be selected for the national team after he was granted Indian citizenship by the government of India.
Originally a holder of Japanese passport, Arata came to India in 2006 when he was recruited by East Bengal as a foreign player. Later, Arata went on to play for the now disbanded Mahindra United before joining Pune FC. “It’s a huge honour for me. I am excited by the prospect of playing for India,” said Arata, who has married an Indian girl.
There are 10 players from Calcutta in the squad. While four are from Prayag United, three each from Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have been selected.
Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul (Prayag United), Sandeep Nandy (Churchill Brothers). Karanjit Singh (Salgaocar).
Defenders: Nirmal Chetri (Mohun Bagan), Gourmangi Singh (Prayag United), Shouvik Ghosh (Pailan Arrows), Syed Rahim Nabi (Mohun Bagan), Gurjinder Kumar (Pune FC), Raju Gaekwad (East Bengal), Denzil Franco (Churchill Brothers). Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues (Churchill Brothers), Lalkamal Bhowmick (Prayag United), Arata Izumi (Pune FC), Mehtab Hossain (East Bengal), Francis Fernandes (Salgaocar), Anthony Pereira (Dempo), Alwyn George (Pailan Arrows), Jewel Raja (Mohun Bagan), Clifford Miranda (Dempo), Vineet CK (Prayag United). Forwards: Sunil Chetri (Sporting Lisbon B), Manandeep Singh (East Bengal), Sushil Kumar Singh (Shillong Lajong).
Chief coach: Wim Koevermans