The Indian football team is preparing for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup qualifiers by holding a national team camp. With the 2022-23 football season coming to a close, head coach Igor Stimac will have a good amount of time to work with his players and train for the crucial AFC Asian Cup event in Qatar.
Here are five players who have stood out in the domestic scene and deserve a call-up to the national camp, with the potential to represent the Indian football team in the fixtures later in June 2023.
Lalchungnunga – Rising Centre-Back
Lalchungnunga has been a standout player in recent years. The centre-back played for East Bengal FC in the Indian Super League, where he excelled despite his team’s struggles. He relied on his strength to outmuscle forwards and proved to be a sharp reader of the game.
His impressive qualities make him an ideal centre-back, and he can also shift to play as a wide defender if needed. He has been a mainstay in the EBFC squad, playing extensively for the club in both the ISL and the Hero Super Cup.
Pratik Chaudhari – Key Defender
Pratik Chaudhari was a key player in Jamshedpur FC’s successful 2022-23 season. The Men of Steel had a positive finish to the ISL season, with Chaudhari at the heart of their consistent performances.
Despite being 33 years old, Chaudhari has bundles of energy and can contain any striker with his physicality. He is also a strong aerial presence and a threat in the attacking third during set-piece situations, thanks to his heading ability.
Udanta Singh – Versatile Winger
Udanta Singh played an instrumental role in Bengaluru FC’s successful 2022-23 season, with his performances vital in the club reaching three finals across the Durand Cup, the ISL playoffs, and the Hero Super Cup. A significant number of fans are expecting him to be part of the national camp.
Although he has not represented the Indian football team in a while and has only one goal for the Blue Tigers, Stimac ought to trust the winger and give him a call-up. Singh’s pace and dribbling skills make him a valuable asset to the team.
Emil Benny – Hardworking Midfielder
Emil Benny was one of the standout performers from NorthEast United FC’s impressive 2022-23 Hero Super Cup campaign. Although the Highlanders had a season to forget in the ISL, they reached the semi-finals of the Super Cup, thanks to sheer hard work, with Benny being one of the key players.
Benny is a versatile midfielder who can play as a No. 10 or in a wider role. His energy and creativity make him a useful player that Stimac can get the best out of.
Nandhakumar Sekar – Clinical Winger
Nandhakumar Sekar has not yet made his debut for the senior national team, but the Odisha FC winger had a positive ending to the 2022-23 season. His goals for OFC were crucial in helping the team reach the final of the Super Cup, scoring a brace in the semi-final, which took the team to its first-ever final. He also put in an excellent performance in the final, helping his club to its first-ever trophy.
Sekar is a brilliant finisher and can cut inwards from the left flank. He also has the ability to deliver accurate crosses into the box. His inclusion in the national camp will add an extra option and depth to the wing-forward role, which is vital to how Stimac’s team attacks.