Football is full of highs but, equally, there can be a fair amount of lows. Ups and downs, you might, say, are the core emotions of most sports, be it those of players or fans. And it is definitely a case of both a high and a low when it comes to the tale of two keepers; both from Pune City FC.
Kamaljit Singh and Vishal Kaith are two keepers both on the books of the Stallions and both who have featured in the plans of the Indian national team. But their fortunes have been mixed over the past couple of days. That’s because Kaith has been allowed to leave the squad being assumed to take part in the King’s Cup in Thailand, while Singh has retained his place in the group. At this point we should confirm that there are more cuts expected to trim the squad before they set out to take part in the upcoming tournament next month.
Kaith losing out has come as a surprise to many. After all, he was a regular in former manager Stephen Constantine’s squads. Constantine departed the role when India exited from the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in back in January. But that was then and this is very much now. The new thought process behind the selection process is all down to Igor Stimac, the new head coach of the national team.
Croatian coach Stimac, a former central defender with Derby County, West Ham United and Hajduk Split, chose to thin out his squad following a six-day camp in New Delhi with 37 stars vying for a place in the final cut. The camp was the first time Stimac — appointed into the job back on May 15 — had the opportunity to meet his new charges and decided who he should and who he shouldn’t select.
Other players who have been trimmed from the initial squad include the popular Sumeet Passi, Nandha Kumar, Redeem Tlang, Bikramjit Singh and Germanpreet Singh. Yes, feathers have certainly been ruffled by Stimac but he will care not a jot for reputations as long as he can show that he has the results to justify the exclusions.
India will play their first game of the King’s Cup when they face Curacao — who are ranked 82nd in the current FIFA rankings — on June 5 at the Buriram Stadium, home of Buriram United. The result of that match is key to what happens next for the Blue Tigers; they could well end up playing hosts Thailand or Vietnam in either the final or the third-place play-off encounter on June 8.
India is watching.