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India name squad for AFC U-20 Asian Cup Qualifiers

A 23-member India U-20 men’s football team was announced on Tuesday for the AFC U-20 Asian Cup, set to be played in Kuwait City, later this week.

The team had been training in Bhubaneswar, where they were also crowned winners of the SAFF U-20 Championship, earlier this year, before shifting base to Kolkata, where they have been training in preparation for the AFC U-20 Championship.

Placed in Group H, India will face the likes of Iraq (October 14), Australia (October 16), and hosts Kuwait (October 18).

“We have had good preparation in the run-up to the AFC U-20 Championship, and the boys are all looking forward to taking on some of the best teams in Asia,” said head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh in an AIFF release.

“We are the underdogs, and in terms of preparation, the opponents have had more international preparation, while we have had more domestic preparation. But we will go there to fight for our chance to qualify.”

“The boys have got a lot of confidence after they won the SAFF U-20 Championship, and I am sure they will be able to give a very good account of themselves on the pitch,” he added.

A total of 44 teams have been placed across 10 groups in the AFC U-20 Asian Cup Qualifiers. Uzbekistan, being the hosts, have already qualified, with 15 other teams set to join them in the tournament proper.

The 10 group toppers will make it to the finals, while the five best second-placed teams will also make it to Uzbekistan 2023. The matches in all the other groups have already taken place last month. However, Group H was postponed to October after the venue was shifted from Basra, Iraq to Kuwait City, Kuwait.

India squad:

Goalkeepers: Zahid Hussain Bukhari, Som Kumar, Dipesh Chauhan;

Defenders: Leewan Castanha, Amandeep, Abhishek Singh Tekcham, Sajad Hussain Parray, Halen Nongtdu, Brijesh Giri, Bikash Yumnam, Raj Basfore.

Midfielders: Vibin Mohanan, Taison Singh Loitongbam, Harsh Shailesh Patre, Sibajit Leimapokpam, Vinay Harji, Shreyas Ketkar, Maheson Singh Tongbram, Aphaoba Singh.

Forwards: Macarton Louis Nickson, Himanshu Jangra, Gurkirat Singh, Suhail Ahmad Bhat.

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