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Bhutia to lead for World Cup qualifiers

February 13, 2004 22:23 IST

Ace striker Baichung Bhutia will lead a 24-member Indian team in the World Cup football qualifying Asian Zone round.

The team, announced on Friday by coach Stephen Constantine at a press conference in Margao, Goa, has four new faces, with a majority of the players from defending National League champions East Bengal.

India are placed alongside Singapore, Oman and Japan. They play their first match against Singapore in Margao on February 18.

"We are ready for Singapore," a confident Constantine said.

"Singapore are rated above us and are a very competitive side... We are expecting a good fight.

"We have done our homework well and I am confident that the boys can turn things around.

"I had a man watching them play twice and have got all the feedback," Constantine added.

Singapore recently participated in the Tiger Hill series where they lost both their matches but not before giving their superior opponents, Norway and Iran Under-23, a scare.

Bhutia said he is confident about the team playing well against Singapore.

"The boys have been practicing hard for the last two weeks and are raring to go," he added.

Asked whether he will be the main target of the rival team, Bhutia replied, "All the players are important and nothing depends on an individual.

"The team's performance will depend on all the 11 players. The team that will play good on the

given day will win."


Goalkeepers: Sangram Mukherjee (East Bengal), Naseem Akhtar (Mahindra United).

Defenders: Deepak Mondal, Mahesh Gawli, Debjit Ghosh,  M Suresh (East Bengal), Satish Kumar Bharti (Mohammedan Sporting).

Midfielders: Tomba Singh, Climax Lawerence, Jatin Singh Bist (Salgaocar), Renedy Singh (Mohun Bagan), Sameer Naik (Dempo), Shanmugan Venkatesh (Mahindra United), Subhas Chakraborty, Alvito D'Cunha (East Bengal), Jo Paul Ancheri (JCT).

Forwards: Baichung Bhutia (capt, East Bengal), Ashim Biswas (Mohun Bagan), Abhishek Yadav (Mahindra United), Shaikh Sanjeev (Mohammedan Sporting).

Stand-bys: Prasanta Dora (Mohun Bagan), Selwyn Fernandes (Vasco), Gurjinder Singh (Salgaocar), Ishfaq Ahmed (Dempo). 

Coach: Stephen Constantine.

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