The India national team has been coached by Dutchman Wim Koevermans for two years now. When Koevermans, who won the 1988 European championship with Netherlands, took charge in July 2012 India were placed 163rd in the FIFA Rankings. They are currently 151st. During Koevermans’ tenure India won the Nehru Cup in 2012 but failed to qualify for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup and finished runners-up in the 2013 SAFF Championship in Nepal. The 54-year-old’s India record reads – Played: 19; Won: 8; Drawn: 4; Lost: 7. Sportskeeda picks an eleven comprising the players he has used the most during his regime.
#1 GK - Subrata Pal
The 28-year-old custodian has been first-choice for the majority of Koeverman’s tenure. He was instrumental in the 2012 Nehru Cup triumph and has also gone on to play in Europe as he had a loan stint at Denmark Superliga outfit FC Vestsjaelland earlier this year. The 2009 AIFF Player of the Year is currently contracted to IMG-Reliance and thus will be featuring in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League.
#2 RB - Nirmal Chettri
The 23-year-old Sikkimese defender has just one senior cap before Koevermans’ arrival but became a regular at right back under the Dutchman and won his first international trophy in the form of the 2012 Nehru Cup. Nirmal is one of the few players to have played for each of the big three clubs of Kolkata (East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Mohammedan Sporting) and he will be seen in action in the Indian Super League.
#3 CB - Arnab Mondal
The 24-year-old centre-back made his international debut under Koevermans in an international friendly against Tajikistan last year and has since featured in every fixture of the India senior team. The East Bengal defender was one of India’s best players at SAFF 2013, scoring the winner in the semi-final against Maldives. Arnab has been highly consistent in the I-League also and has the potential to be the leader of India’s backline for many years to come.
#4 CB - Gouramangi Singh
Since his debut in August 2007 and until September 2013, the Manipuri centre-back missed just one game for the India senior team and that was when he was rested. He was ever-present during the 14 months of Koevermans’ tenure and was also the vice-captain. With 72 appearances, Gouramangi is one of India’s most capped players at international level and also scores important goals like the one against Cameroon B in the 2012 Nehru Cup final.
#5 LB - Syed Rahim Nabi
India’s Mr. Versatile has featured in various different positions under Koevermans but has been more regularly used at left back. Throughout his career Nabi has been a match winner for club and country as he scores important goals with his head from set-pieces and also sets up many with his crosses. Nabi, who was offered a trial by USA’s MLS outfit DC United last year, was the AIFF Player of the Year in 2012.
#6 RM - Francis Fernandes
The 28-year-old has been one of the first names on Koevermans’ team sheet in the last two years. Used either behind a lone striker in a playmaker role or on either wing, Francis has come up with important goals and assists. The former Salgaocar captain was one of the best players of SAFF 2013 despite India’s failure to win the title and is also one of three senior players in India’s Asian Games squad.
#7 CM - Lenny Rodrigues
The 27-year-old has gone on to become one of India’s most important players under Koevermans, having started almost every international game in the last 24 months. Lenny’s work-rate and passing in central midfield is vital to Koevermans’ style of play and the Goan’s consistency also saw his former club Churchill Brothers win the I-League in 2013 and Federation Cup in 2014. He has recently joined IMG-Reliance to play in the Indian Super League.
#8 CM - Mehtab Hossain
The central medio made his international debut back in 2005 but only became a regular in India’s starting eleven under Koevermans. Mehtab’s tenacity and aggression makes him irreplaceable with his best performances coming during the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. Mehtab has also been instrumental in East Bengal’s consistency in the last four years. He showed his commitment to the national team by rejecting trial offers in Spain last year in order to be available for India duty at SAFF 2013.
#9 LM - Clifford Miranda
The Goan has won almost every domestic trophy with Dempo including five league titles and has been a regular on the left wing for Koevermans’ side. Miranda doesn’t only create goals from his crossing and set-piece deliveries but also is quite prolific, scoring three international goals in 2013. He was heavily missed during the 2013 SAFF Championship due to injury and despite being 32 still has the class and experience to help India at international level.
#10 CF - Sunil Chhetri
The India captain has scored nine times under Koevermans and became the country’s highest ever scorer at international level as he surpassed Bhaichung Bhutia’s tally in a friendly against Nepal last year. Sunil has been an inspirational figure for the national team and even showed great mental strength to bounce back after being dropped in the SAFF 2013 final. The three-time AIFF Player of the Year winner and Arjuna Awardee is now reaching the peak of his career.
#11 CF - Robin Singh
Koevermans hasn’t always played two forwards during his tenure but whenever he has, Robin has been the partner of Sunil upfront. The Bengaluru FC forward made his international debut under Koevermans in the 2012 Nehru Cup and scored his first international goal against Chinese Taipei in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. Robin’s height and physical presence gives India a different option in attack and he will also be featuring in the 2014 Asian Games.