New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Expressing surprise at former national captain Climax Lawrence’s decision to retire from international football, India’s chief football coach Savio Medeira Wednesday said the Dempo medio was rested and not dropped from the 30 probables for the preparatory camp for next month’s AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu.
Lawrence, who led the team to SAFF Cup triumph in December last year, had Tuesday blamed the coach for his decision to retire and said he was hurt after being unceremoniously dropped from the probables.
Medeira said Lawrence didn’t figure in his scheme of things for the AFC Challenge Cup and he had informed the player before picking the probables.
“I didn’t drop him; rather I rested him. In a tournament such as the AFC Challenge Cup, you ought to play every alternate day. The recovery time stays minimal. He has been playing regularly in the I-League and for the last decade, his body has taken a toll. Hence, he didn’t figure in my plans for the AFC Challenge Cup. I did speak to him prior to my decision,” he said.
“I’ve heard Climax has announced his retirement. But to me retirement is just a word. There have been so many players who have come out of retirement to play again. He would be playing Club Football in any case. If he stays physically and mentally tough, he can always play for the nation,” the Goan said.
Medeira also left out struggling winger Steven Dias and senior defender Mahesh Gawli. Star striker Sunil Chettri has recovered from his ankle injury sustained during the SAFF Championships but his striking partner Jeje Lalpekhlua was left out since he was injured in an I-League match last month.
Medeira said Jeje’s absence will be a big loss.
“It has upset our plans no doubt. Jeje is a player who can hold onto the ball and shield it allowing the midfielders to rush in. You cannot have a readymade replacement for him. He is someone who can make that difference in a crunch match. But at the same time, it stays a chance for others to grab the opportunity,” he said.
The national camp will be held in Dubai from February 15 after which the group will be pruned down to 23. India will also play a friendly international against Oman, Feb 23 in Muscat.
India, winners in 2008, have to win the AFC Challenge Cup to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia. The tournament will be held in Kathmandu March 8-19.
Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Subhasish Roychowdhury, Arindam Bhattacharya, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Defenders: Nirmal Chhetri, Raju Gaikwad, Sameer Naik, Gourmangi Singh, Anwar Ali, Kinsukh Debnath, Syed Rahim Nabi, Arnab Mondal, Gurjinder Singh.
Midfielders: Adil Khan, Anthony Pereira, Clifford Miranda, Reisangmi Vashum, Baldeep Singh, Lester Fernandes, Rocus Lamare, Francis Fernandes, Jewel Raja, Manish Mathani, Lenny Rodrigues, Lalrindika Ralte.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Sushil Singh, CS Sabeeth, Manandeep Singh, Joaquim Abranches.