Kerala Blasters’ centre-back Anas Edathodika has retired from the Indian national team. The 31-year-old defender took to social media to announce his decision.
The Keralite has had 19 caps for the national team, all under coach Stephen Constantine, debuting in a 3-2 win against Cambodia in 2017.
With a late entry, he did manage to win millions of hearts for his defensive partnership with Sandesh Jhingan. Injuries have troubled him a lot, including the recent one against Bahrain in AFC Asian Cup group stage final match where he had to be substituted in the early minutes.
On his instagram post, he said, “It comes with a very heavy heart today to announce my retirement from Indian national football team. It’s been a very hard decision to take and accept. I love to play more years at my best, but I think it’s the time to step down and give opportunities to youngsters who can perform better.”
Talk Sports24X7 analyses the top leagues of the country and picks out top 5 defenders who can take Anas’ place in the Indian National Team:
1) Salam Ranjan Singh:
The 23 year-old Mainpuri centre back is the immediate replacement for Anas Edathodika in the Indian National Team. He replaced Anas in the early minutes against Bahrain in AFC Asian Cup. Salam has been consistently performing in I-League as well as ISL for a few seasons now. First spotted in Pune FC during 2013-14 season, Salam was the main Indian centre back for the Red Lizards. Later he was loaned to Bengaluru FC in the I-League for 2015-16 season. He moved to North East United FC in 2016 and performed well in ISL, along with excellent performance for Bengaluru FC in AFC Cup. In 2017, he moved to East Bengal in I-League. Though not a starter in I-League for the Red and Golds, he has never disappointed when the team has needed him. He will look forward to strengthen his position in the national team.
2) Anwar Ali:
The 18 year-old Punjab-born defender is already a fan favourite in the nation after his performance alongside Jitendra Singh in the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017. He performed excellently for Indian U-20 side in Cotif Cup 2018 as well, where India defeated Argentina 2-1 with Anwar scoring the winning goal. A no-nonsense well-built defender, Anwar has gathered experience playing for the Indian Arrows side in I-League. He may take Anas’ place in the Indian National Team with some more stunning performances in the I-League.
3) Subhasish Bose:
The 23 year-old Bengalee left back won hearts through his performances as left-back at Mohun Bagan during 2016-17 I-League season which earned him a spot at the National Team and made Bengaluru FC buy him for the Indian Super League. Later he moved to Mumbai City FC for the on-going season. Ex-coach Stephen Constantine played him at centre back position in a friendly match against Jordan where India lost 2-1, but he did live up to the expectation. He can fit into the central defence beside Jhingan to fulfil Anas’ space.
4) Rana Gharami:
The 28 year-old Garalgachha-born defender has the potential to be summoned in the National Team squad. He has worked hard to deserve a spot in Delhi Dynamos this season. He was part of the West Bengal U-21 team that won the Gold Medal in 2011 National Games. Rana played for CFL Premier Division side Peerless SC and CFL Super Division side Railway FC. He has the experience of I-League 2nd division as well for Kalighat MS and Mohammedan SC. He signed for Mohun Bagan in 2013, but was just a bench-warmer, but he proved his worth during 2017-18 I-League season when Mohun Bagan resigned him and he performed his duties well. His defensive skills have won hearts that led to Delhi Dynamos signing him this season where he has performed well. He might be given a chance to replace Anas at the Indian National Team.
5) Monotosh Chakladar:
The young defender from Gokulam Kerala FC can be given a chance in the Indian National Team to replace Anas Edathodika in near future. He has been consistent for some years now in the Calcutta Football League for Pathachakra SC and has performed excellently well there. Although, not a first choice at the I-League “Giant Killers”, Monotosh when given a chance lives up to his reputation. His amazing performance in the Santosh Trophy for Bengal for two consecutive years have earned him a name in the nation, and that might be a necessary boost for him to reach the Indian National Team.