Indian football team stars, including skipper Sunil Chhetri, expressed confidence of doing well in the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers.
Indian football team stars, including skipper Sunil Chhetri, expressed confidence of doing well in the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers next month. This is despite their preparations not being ideal due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India are scheduled to play Asian champions Qatar on June 3, Bangladesh on June 7 and Afghanistan on June 15. All with all three matches to be played at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.
“We are making the most of the circumstances,” Chhetri said in a virtual press conference organised by the AIFF.
Top defender Sandesh Jhingan added, “The confidence in the squad is high. We have done it earlier and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again. We have grown as a team and we need to take it forward together.”
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said, “We understand that the preparations have not been ideal but we are confident in our abilities as a team. We are not scared, and moving into the qualifiers, that’s important.”
AIFF President Praful Patel also contacted senior members of the team to get a feel of their preparations ahead of the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers.
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) May 26, 2021
“More power to all of you. I wish all of you good health and strength. We are extremely proud of you,” Patel said.
“We spoke to the Qatar government and we were lucky that they didn’t insist on the 10-day quarantine, and that has allowed the squad to assemble in Doha and begin our training sessions,” the president said.
The Indian team, fourth in Group E with three points, is out of contention for a World Cup berth. However, the Blue Tigers are still in the reckoning for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
Head coach Igor Stimac thanked the president for helping the squad arrive early in Doha.
“We are thankful to you Mr. President and all in the AIFF for providing us the opportunity to come earlier. And also taking our cause with the Government of Qatar and arranging for us to train even during quarantine,” Stimac said.
However, Stimac added that preparations have not been ideal. “The expectations are high but realistically the situation hasn’t been ideal.”