49th King’s Cup: Indian football head coach Igor Stimac names Chhetri-less 23-member squad


New Delhi: India Senior Men’s Football Team Coach Igor Stimac announced a 23-member squad for the 49th King’s Cup. The tournament is to be held from September 7-10 2023, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

India, with its FIFA ranking of 99, will face Iraq, who is at 70th position. The semifinal will be held on September 7 at 16:00 IST at the 700th Anniversary Stadium. Hosts Thailand, having FIFA ranking of 113 – take on Lebanon who are just behind India, in the other semifinal at 19:00 IST on the same day.

However, Indian talisman Sunil Chhetri did not make the final list of players. King’s Cup is one of the international tournaments that will play a preparatory part for India ahead of the 2024 AFC Asian Cup in January. The reason behind Sunil Chhetri’s exclusion is nothing to do with fitness or any kind of injury.

As per reports, the all-time skipper of the Indian football team is being left out as the birth of his first child is near, anticipated around the start of the 2023 King’s Cup. In order to allow him to be with his wife, Sonam Bhattacharya at the important stage of their lives, Igor Stimac might not have picked the third active international top scorer, who is standing with 92 goals. It is seemed that Chhetri’s request to be excused with an honoured.

In their previous King’s Cup ventures in 2019, the Indian team finished third. Sunil Chhetri’s absence would be felt, but it is more vital for the all-time top Indian goalscorer to be present for his family’s child’s birth.

India’s 23-member squad for the 49th King’s Cup 2023:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Gurmeet Singh.

Defenders: Asish Rai, Nikhil Poojary, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Mehtab Singh, Lalchungnunga, Akash Mishra, Subhasish Bose.

Midfielders: Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Brandon Fernandes, Sahal Abdul Samad, Anirudh Thapa, Rohit Kumar, Ashique Kuruniyan, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte.

Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Rahul KP.

Head coach: Igor Stimac