Bengaluru, November 6: Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem is the only new face in the 26-man Sunil Chhetri-led Indian squad announced by national team coach Igor Stimac for the upcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Zone Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup away qualifiers against Afghanistan and Oman.
India take on Afghanistan at the Republican Central Stadium in Dushanbe on November 14 and play Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on November 19.
AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar and Bangladesh are the other teams in Group E, where India is currently languishing fourth in the table with just two points from the three games played so far.
India began the Road to Qatar 2022 campaign with a heart-breaking 1-2 loss at home to Oman, a match in which they led for most of the time, before conceding two goals in the last 10 minutes. They then won laurels after holding formidable Qatar to a goalless draw away before being held 1-1 by minnows Bangladesh at home.
Dheeraj, who has been picked at the expense of Kamaljit Singh, plies his trade with two-time champions ATK in the Indian Super League (ISL). Earlier he was with the two-time ISL runners-up Kerala Blasters.
He was the main custodian of the Indian team in the Under-17 World Cup held at home in 2017. Though the 19-year-old had earlier been part of the national team's U-23 side, this is the first time that he is being selected to the senior team.
Sandesh Jhingan, who continues his recovery from the ankle injury was not considered for selection.
Nikhil Poojary, Halicharan Narzary and Balwant Singh were left out while Farukh Choudhary, Jackichand Singh and Seiminlen Dounge made the cut.
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Anas Edathodika, Narender, Adil Khan, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Seiminlen Doungel, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brandon Fernandes, Ashique Kuruniyan
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh, Farukh Choudhary