MUMBAI, Sept 2: India�s national football coach Stephen Constantine today appointed towering goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as captain for tomorrow�s international friendly against higher-ranked Puerto Rico at the suburban Andheri Sports Complex ground here.
�Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will captain the team tomorrow against Puerto Rico,� Constantine announced at the fag end of the pre-match media conference to give a huge boost to the 24-year-old, one of the youngest players to lead the national football team.
The elevation of Gurpreet, the only Indian playing professional football in Europe with Stabaek FC in Norway, in place of regular leader and ace striker Sunil Chhetri, means senior custodian Subrata Paul, who recently won the Arjuna award, would have to sit out.
The game against the CONCACAF rivals, the first football international to be held in this megapolis since the India versus USSR match way back in 1955, gives a chance to the national side seek to climb the FIFA ranking.
Currently India are 152 as compared to Puerto Rico�s 114 and this would be the national team�s fifth international game this year.
Puerto Rico squad missed their connecting flight and are to reach only this evening, it was announced, but coach Constantine brushed aside any extra advantage for India due to this late arrival of the opponents.
�They are a good side with many good players. Yeah, one may mention about their landing timing in Mumbai but you cannot take away their quality. Can you? Puerto Rico were one of the best movers in the FIFA Rankings. They are a very organised side,� said Constantine.
Constantine also praised Gurpreet�s attitude of �sticking in Norway.�
Former India captain Sunil Chhetri, after a glance from Constantine, said he was fully fit for the game.
In defence, the team would depend upon Sandesh Jhingan and Arnab Mondal on the flanks with Narayan Das and Rino Anto being the central defenders.
The match kicks off at 8 pm. � PTI