Experienced striker Sunil Chhetri has been ruled out of the Indian football squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier against Iran due to an injury.
Chhetri, who represents Bengaluru FC at the domestic level, is recovering from a groin injury which he had picked up during an I-League match earlier this season.
A total of six players among the 28 probables in the national camp did not travel with the Indian squad to Tehran for the 2018 World Cup preliminary joint qualification second round match slated to be played on March 24. Iran had won the first leg 3-0 in Bengaluru on September 8.
“The injury is such that it requires him to take necessary care and that requires him to stay back in India and get treated,” India coach Stephen Constantine explained.
Chhetri was disappointed to miss the tie and could not recall the last time he had missed an international match due to injury.
“I was sitting at my room trying to recall as to when I last missed a national team match for injury. It’s so disappointing. It’s such an important match for us and I still can’t believe that I would be missing it,” the 31-year-old was quoted as saying by the official website of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Monday.
“The coach had a chat with Gigy sir (team physio Gigy George) and decided to leave me out of the squad to enable me time to get treated and get ready for the next game,” the former Mohun Bagan striker informed.
“At the moment it is obviously not a good feeling to have missed the bus but maybe in the long run, it will probably be for good.”
Chhetri also lauded Constantine’s initiative of summoning the injured duo of defensive midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh and striker Robin Singh to get their rehabs assessed, monitored, checked and advised by the medical staff of the national team.
“I am touched at the solidarity and support shown to the players. It is a great initiative by the coach to send the message about the care for his Players,” he stated.
“The support from the AIFF means a lot to the Players especially when one is injured,” he added.
Besides Chhetri, T.P. Reheneesh, Rino Anto, Allwyn George, Malsawmzuala and Md Rafique have been dropped for the match against Iran.
“There may be one or two additions to the squad for the Turkmenistan match. But at the moment we are concentrating our next match against Iran,” Constantine informed.