The AIFF is looking for more venues so the team can start practicing under head coach Igor Stimac
Sunil Chhetri’s Indian team’s preparations before the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers next month have been stalled due to the COVID-19 situation. With the second wave raging and lockdown like state in the entire country, the AIFF had asked the AFC to postpone qualifiers against Qatar, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. These qualifiers are scheduled for June but the request was turned down.
Now, the AIFF is looking for more venues so the team can start practicing under head coach Igor Stimac. Dubai and Doha have emerged as plausible options.
The preparatory camp under coach Igor Stimac was supposed to start from April in Kolkata but elections in West Bengal and the COVID crisis forced AIFF to change its plans. While Goa and other places as possible options, the fear of COVID-19 spread changed the plans.
India will face Qatar on June 3, Bangladesh on June 7 and Afghanistan on June 15 in Doha. Doha or Dubai (UAE) looked like great alternatives. But the AIFF hasn’t heard from Qatar Football Association yet.
“Our plan was to travel straight to Doha on May 7 and train there. The idea was to minimise air travel and ensure we have enough time to prepare for the crucial games. We have not yet heard from the Qatar FA how soon we can arrive there. We are expecting a solution soon,” an AIFF official told TOI.
The difficulties in arranging the national camp forced the AIFF to approach the AFC to postpone the games. But the AFC don’t look very affected and have not given an answer. If the team cannot make it to Doha early, they will look at UAE as an option.
As per TOI, Igor Stimac contacted players on Tuesday, asking them to prepare for the difficulties ahead. “We were asked whether we are fit for the assignment. If a player has family issues with regards to Covid situation, he will be excused,” a national team player said.