Indian football team midfielder Anirudh Thapa has said that it would be difficult for head coach Igor Stimac to select a team for the forthcoming World Cup Qualifiers in Qatar as there has been very little football in the last two months.
After many postponements and redevelopment from the rest of the Games, the Indian football team will leave for Qatar on 19 May to play the last three group matches. They will face Qatar (3 June), Bangladesh (7 June), and Afghanistan (15 June) at the central position.
Before the Indian team departed, midfielder Anirudh Thapa admitted that the national team players have not been practicing for more than two months. India had earlier played two international friendly matches against Oman and Qatar in March.
The first qualifying game was against Oman, in which India lost 2–1 and both subsequent games were drawn 1–1 against Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In the first reverse matches, India suffered a 1–0 loss to Oman, against Qatar and Afghanistan in the remaining home matches.
When asked about the fitness concerns of the Indian team at the press conference and how difficult it can be to make his selection for head coach Igor Stimack, Thappa said: “It will be really difficult for the coach to pick the team. We have not played for nearly two months and it will be difficult for us (players) also. ”
“It can be in the back of our mind (without playing for a long time), worry about injury, how you will react to a certain situation, it can all happen.” Thapa said that the players train hard in different rooms and stay fit as much as possible.
“We have fitness programs every day and we follow them. So we are in shape and we hope to give everything we can. We were also told that there could be matches and to be mentally prepared,” said Thapa.
“The World Cup qualifiers are big matches. We represent the country and this is enough motivation to offer the best. ”
Eight group winners and four top runners-up will advance to the final stages of qualifying the continent’s 12 teams for the World Cup. However, India is still in contention for a spot in the 2023 Asian Cup to be held in China, with third place, helping India secure a straight spot in the third round of the qualifier. India are in fourth place with only 3 points from five matches, with Qatar leading by 13 points, with Oman one point behind them.