The Blue Tigers are in Doha to play their remaining matches of joint FIFA World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers starting next month.
The Indian football team is in Doha to play their remaining matches of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 combined qualifiers. All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das believes India has its task cut out in the remaining matches. The Blue Tigers will play their first match against Qatar on June 3. After that, they will take on Bangladesh and Afghanistan on June 7 and 15 respectively. The team is having a two weeks preparatory camp in a bio bubble under head coach Igor Stimac.
The Indian football team is bolstered by the return of their 36-year old skipper and top scorer Sunil Chhetri. He missed the previous trip to Dubai in March due to a positive COVID-19 test result.
“Coach Igor Stimac is faced with a tall order with Bangladesh having finished their premier league and having been in camp since then,” Das told PTI
“Many of the Afghan players also play in Europe and they have been in camp in Dubai for some time now hence having more exposure and training,” he added.
The Indian team was scheduled to have a preparatory camp in Kolkata from May 2. However, because of the COVID-19 situation in India the camp was canceled. Still, the AIFF managed to arrange and short camp in Qatar after mandatory testing and quarantine protocols in India.
“Circumstances are difficult but there is no choice as quarantine and bio-bubbles have become necessary for now with the team’s safety being our top priority,” Das said.
“Had this interim solution not been implemented, it would have been difficult to even participate. Considering most of the players have been unable to train since last two months” Das stated.
Croatian coach Stimac, who took charge in May 2019, has given debuts to many youngsters during his tenure. The AIFF top official is also for grooming youngsters.
“Modern day football is all about the youth. The perfect conglomeration of youth and experience is the bedrock for success at the senior level.
“With so many talented youngsters who have come out of the AIFF academy set-up and are knocking at the door of the national team on merit, it was pertinent that they are groomed and put in together with the experience of the senior pros. All in an effort to make the national team set-up stronger and take Indian football forward together.”
India are currently placed fourth in the Group E with three points form five games. They are already out of contention for the World Cup but are fighting for a place in the Asian Cup.