The Indian football team is expected to deal with a tough challenge in the outstanding matches of the combined qualifiers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar next month, the news has been confirmed by general secretary Kushal Das of All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Monday. The return of captain Sunil Chhetri has strengthened the Indian team, which is participating in the bio-bubble environment in Doha.
The Indian football team will face the host Qatar in the first match on June 3 and then have Bangladesh and Afghanistan lined up for June 7 and June 15 respectively. Das told PTI, “Coach Igor Stimac will face a challenge, Bangladesh has just finished their Premier League and the team has been in camp ever since. Many Afghan players also play in Europe and they have been camping in Dubai for some time, which has given them a lot of practice.”
In Group E the Indian team is placed fourth holding three points and has a chance to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup in China despite being ruled out of the race for the World Cup. Due to the surge in coronavirus cases across the country the Indian team had to cancel their plan of attending the national camp in Kolkata from May 2 onwards.
The AIFF was successful in organizing a small camp in Qatar after following mandatory testing and isolation protocols in India. He said, “Circumstances are difficult but there is no alternative as isolation and a biologically safe environment have become necessary now and team safety is our top priority.”