18 Dec 2018, 20:31 IST
There’s no way that Rahul Bheke can ever make the Indian squad for the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Many believed that Nishu Kumar’s injury would pave the way for Bheke’s maiden call-up to the Indian national football team but even if there are a couple of other injuries – including those to defenders, the Bengaluru FC star cannot be called in. Ever.
India coach Stephen Constantine picks the squad based on the form and fitness of players. In that case, Bheke, who was the Fans’ Player of the Month for November, should have got in.
Bheke has played all the 990 minutes for Bengaluru FC and has recorded two goals and one assist for the Blues. The defender has 27 tackles, 13 interceptions, 62 clearances and 17 blocks in 11 matches, meaning he’s enjoying the best form of his life.
ALSO READ: Twitter reacts to Bheke’s exclusion
The same goes for Jamshedpur FC’s Michael Soosairaj, FC Goa’s Brandon Fernandes, and East Bengal’s Jobby Justin.
While Soosairaj lit up the ISL with three amazing strikes for Jamshedpur, Fernandes has two goals and two assists in the 810 minutes he has appeared for the Gaurs.
Justin has lit up the I-League and has scored five times for East Bengal, including a scissor-kick goal in the Kolkata Derby against Mohun Bagan.
Yet, they were all overlooked.
Well, this is where Constantine comes into the picture.
India, and every country playing in the Asian Cup for that matter, had to submit a 50-man squad to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the continental governing body for football, by December 5.
And for reasons that cannot be fathomed, Bheke does not figure in that list.
Let that sink in.
Bheke, part of ISL leaders Bengaluru FC, is not among the best 50 players in the country. And why can’t he ever be called up?
ALSO READ: Constantine’s raw deal to Rahul Bheke
Well, any replacement to an injured player in the squad has to come from those 16 who were left out when the 34-man squad was announced.
Once the best pool of 50 players has been submitted to the Asian Cup organisers, no addition can be made to that list. And the coach can tinker with the squad members only from those 50 until he announces the final 23-man squad.
Even his club teammate Erik Paartalu was quite vocal about his exclusion.
ALSO READ: Unpicked XI for India’s Asian Cup probables
Door closed for Bheke?
At least under Constantine, it appears that Bheke will not get a chance despite turning in better performances than the rest of the defenders.
Sportskeeda could not confirm whether Soosairaj, Fernandes and Justin – the other players who deserved to be among the 34 – were in the 50-man list or not.
As for Bheke, only Constantine can explain why he shut the door on such a talented player.
We can only guess – it’s mainly because he doesn’t want to change the core of the squad before an important tournament like the Asian Cup.
Topics you might be interested in:
Aravind Suchindran is a sports reporter from Bangalore, who has previously worked with the Times Of India and Bangalore Mirror. When not writing, he likes to read between the lines. When bored of reading between the lines, he likes to play football and explore the world.
Fetching more content…
Fetching more content…
- Head coach Park Hang-seo calls six new players for Asian Cup 2019
- Vietnam gets new jersey ahead of first Asian Cup 2019 game
- Vietnam shows remarkable progress at Asian Cup 2019
- Vietnam, Afghanistan draw at Asian Cup 2019 qualifier
- Asian Cup 2019: Vietnam trounces Cambodia 5-0
- Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers: Vietnam hold Jordan to a 1-1 draw
- ‘Vietnam’ second most searched keyword in Japan after Asian Cup quarterfinal
- Vietnam may face regional rivals in Asian Cup finals
- Vietnam seeded ahead of regional rivals Thailand, Philippines for 2019 Asian Cup
- Arabian knights send Korea, Australia crashing out of Asian Cup