The All India Football Federation (AIFF) made an announcement on Tuesday, revealing the 22-member Indian men’s football team that will be participating in the Asian Games 2023. The highly anticipated event is set to take place in Hangzhou, the People’s Republic of China, from September 23 to October 8.
Leading the team will be three senior players – striker Sunil Chhetri, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, and defender Sandesh Jhingan – who are expected to bring their experience and leadership to the squad in Hangzhou.
Since 2002, the men’s football event at the Asian Games has been limited to players under the age of 23, with each team allowed to include up to three players above this age bracket.
The Indian men’s football team has been placed in Group A, alongside host nation China, as well as Bangladesh and Myanmar. Despite being ranked 99th in the latest FIFA rankings, India is the second-best ranked team in their group, with China holding the 80th spot. Myanmar is ranked 160th, while Bangladesh is placed at 189th.
Looking back at the history of the Indian men’s football team in the Asian Games, they have had significant achievements in the past. They secured gold medals at the New Delhi 1951 and Jakarta 1962 Asian Games, and a bronze medal at Bangkok 1970. The Hangzhou 2023 Games will mark the 16th appearance of the Indian men’s football team in the prestigious tournament.
The Indian football team’s participation in the Hangzhou Games comes as a special case, thanks to the relaxation of rules by the sports ministry. This decision was influenced by India’s impressive performances in recent times, where the national team secured victories in consecutive international tournaments, namely the Intercontinental Cup and the SAFF Cup.
According to the government’s regulations, teams that rank eighth or better in Asia are eligible to compete in continental events such as the Asian Games. Due to this criterion, the Indian football teams were unable to participate in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta. However, with the current rank of 18th in Asia, the Indian men’s football team has earned the opportunity to take part in the upcoming Games, marking their return after a hiatus of nine years.
Furthermore, the Indian women’s football team has also received clearance from the sports ministry to participate in the Hangzhou Games as a special case. The official announcement regarding their inclusion in the event will be made at a later date.
Asian Games 2023 Indian men’s football team – here’s full squad
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Gurmeet Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.
Defenders: Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Narender Gahlot, Lalchungnunga, Akash Mishra, Roshan Singh, Ashish Rai.
Midfielders: Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Apuia Ralte, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Rahul KP, Naorem Mahesh Singh.
Forwards: Siva Sakthi Narayanan, Rahim Ali, Aniket Jadhav, Vikram Partap Singh, Rohit Danu, Sunil Chhetri.
Head Coach: Igor Stimac.