Three new foreign recruits along with three players from the B team are some of the new faces Chennaiyin FC has recruited for its title defence.
However, the team suffered a big blow with local lad Dhanpal Ganesh likely to miss a major part of the tournament after sustaining a knee injury on his left leg during pre-season training. The midfielder has not been named in the 25-member squad and has been ruled out of the first five matches. The injury could also affect his participation for the national side in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in January.
The reigning champion will open its campaign against Bengaluru FC this Sunday.
The team has retained 12 players from its title-winning squad, including foreigners Raphael Augusto, Mailson Alves who will lead the side, Inigo Calderon and Gregory Nelson.
The three new foreign recruits are Brazilian defender Eli Sabia, Italian midfielder Andrea Orlandi and Palestine forward Carlos Antonio Salom.
Speaking on Monday, head coach John Gregory said, “We are looking forward to the new season with an objective to create history by becoming the first team to retain the ISL title, and put on a good show in our debut AFC Cup campaign.
“There’s no pressure. We just want the players to be relaxed as much as possible.”
Even with Ganesh out, the team will have local flavour in mid-fielder S. Pandiyan who was earlier signed this year from I-League club Chennai City FC.
Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh, Sanjiban Ghosh, Nikhil Bernard.
Defenders: Mailson Alves (Brazil), Eli Sabia (Brazil), Inigo Calderon (Spain), Jerry Lalrinzuala, Tondonba Singh, Laldinliana Renthlei, Zohmingliana Ralte, Hendry Antonay.
Midfielders: Raphael Augusto (Brazil), Gregory Nelson (the Netherlands), Andrea Orlandi (Italy), Francisco Fernandes, Thoi Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Germanpreet Singh, Sinivasan Pandiyan, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Bedashwor Singh, Zonunmawia.
Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Mohammed Rafi, Carlos Antonio Salom (Palestine)
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