Anas Edathodika (left) was the mainstay of the Indian football team’s defense for close to a decade and new coach Igor Stimac is keen to use his experience while building his side.
Indian Men’s Football Team coach Igor Stimac named central defender Anas Edathodika in his list of 35 probables for the preparatory camp ahead of the Intercontinental Cup. Anas, who announced his retirement from international football after the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE earlier this year, said he “received a call from coach Stimac” which prompted him to “come out of international retirement”.
“Coach Stimac has shown his faith in me, and it's my turn to repay him,” Anas was quoted in the All India Football Federation (AIFF) press release.
“Coach asked me to join the upcoming camp. Honestly, I was taken aback. Later Venky-bhai (India assistant coach Venkatesh Shanmugam) shared all the details, and I just can't wait to join the camp,” he added.
Stimac appreciated Anas’ decision and stressed that “playing for the country is the biggest honour for any sportsman”.
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Anas’ addition to the National team is a huge boost to Stimac who has stressed on the importance of a strong defensive unit for the team’s success.
“Anas had played a significant role under Mr. Constantine, and I welcome his decision to accept my call, and make himself available for the National Team after we spoke,” said Stimac.
The coach, whose side won the first match under him at the recently concluded King’s Cup in Thailand (a victory over the hosts in the third-placed playoff), added that he would expect all players in the camp to work hard for a spot in the final squad.
“All our players should consider themselves candidates for the National Team shirt as far as they work hard, and keep playing well for their respective clubs,” Stimac said. “I use this opportunity to pay my regards, and best wishes for the upcoming season to all the players, managers and clubs in the I-League, and the Hero ISL (Indian Super League).”
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Anas, who had retired after recurring issues with his hamstring, is excited to be back in the national set-up. “The respect I earned while playing for the National Team is something which has pushed me to challenge myself again,” he said. “At the moment, I’m just focussing on the camp, and not thinking about making the cut to the team at all. Whatever comes my way, I'll accept it. I'm equally passionate, and focused like I was a year back. I'm ready to push myself more.”
Stimac has also named defenders Sarthak Golui and Narender Gehlot; midfielders Mandar Rao Desai, Ashique Kuruniyan, and Nikhil Poojary in the probables camp, which will be held at the Mumbai Football Arena from June 25.
The four-nation Intercontinental Cup will be held in Ahmedabad from July 7-18. India begin their campaign on the opening day against Tajikistan. DPR Korea (North Korea) and Syria are the remaining two teams in the competition.
The 35 probables:
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh, Vishal Kaith.
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DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Salam Ranjan Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Anas Edathodika, Anwar Ali (Jr), Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Narender Gahlot.
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul, Amarjit Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mandar Rao Desai, Ashique Kuruniyan, Nikhil Poojary, Michael Soosairaj.
FORWARDS: Balwant Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Jobby Justin, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh.
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