Japan-born Arata Izumi on Tuesday became the first Person of Indian Origin to be named in an Indian football squad as national coach Wim Kovermans picked 23 players for the international friendly against Palestine to be played in Kochi on February 6.
A Japanese citizen until last year, 30-year-old Izumi, born to an Indian father and Japanese mother, has been plying trade in India since 2006 and received Indian citizenship in August last year.
His first match as an Indian citizen was in Pune FC colours against Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the 125th Durand Cup at New Delhi on August 23. He has been a key midfielder for Pune FC since 2009 I-League season.
Meanwhile, veteran Churchill Bothers goalkeeper Sandip Nandy returns to the Indian squad in preference to Dempo custodian Subhasish Roychowdhury, while Gurjinder Kumar, Raju Gaikwad, Lalkamal Bhowmick and Sushil Kumar also made a return.
Prayag United’s C K Vineeth has been named for the first time into an India squad after being consistent in his performances for his club. The East Bengal trio of Robin Singh, Gurwinder Singh and Sanju Pradhan, who has been injured, are not part of the squad that was named for the international friendly against Yemen in November last year.
Prayag United have the maximum representation in the national squad with four players in Vineeth, Subrata Paul, Moirangthem Gouramangi and Bhowmick.
Goalkeepers: Subrata Pal, Sandip Nandy, Karanjit Singh
Defenders: Nirmal Chhetri, Gouramangi Singh, Shouvik Ghosh, Syed Rahim Nabi, Gurjinder Kumar, Raju Gaikwad, Denzil Franco
Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Arata Izumi, Mehtab Hossain, Francis Fernandes, Anthony Pereira, Alwyn George, Jewel Raja, Clifford Miranda, Vineet CK
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Manandeep Singh, Sushil Kumar Singh.