The Secretary-General of the Indian Football Federation (AIFF), Kushal Das, said on Monday that the men’s national team will have its task in the remaining joint qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar next month.
The team, backed by the return of mascot Sunil Chetri, passes a training camp in a bio-balloon in Doha before their first match on June 3 against hosts Qatar. The other two matches are against Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15).
“Coach Igor Stimak is facing a high order with Bangladesh, who have just finished their major leagues and have been in camp since,” Das told PTI.
“Many of the Afghan players also play in Europe and have been in a camp in Dubai for some time, so they have more exposure and training,” he added.
The Indian team, fourth in Group E with three points, is out of competition for a place in the World Cup, but is still counting on the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
The Blue Tigers were supposed to have a national camp in Kolkata from May 2 onwards, but the raging pandemic of COVID-19 in the country led to its cancellation.
However, the AIFF was determined to save the situation and therefore operated a shorter camp in Qatar following mandatory testing and quarantine protocols in India.
“Circumstances are difficult, but there is no choice, as quarantine and bio-bubbles are needed for now, and team safety is our top priority,” Das said.
The AIFF Secretary General expressed his gratitude to the Qatar Football Association (QFA), which, despite quarantine and other restrictions, allowed the Indian team to train in a bio balloon. “If this was not a temporary solution
it would be difficult to even participate, as most players have not been able to train since the last two months, “Das said.
One of the top coaches to lead India’s men’s national football team, Croatian world champion Stimak, was appointed to the top post in May 2019 for a two-year term.
During his tenure, Stimak gave opportunities to many promising youngsters in the team, allowing them the freedom to perform on the field with a vision to nurture a future team.
The AIFF’s best employee is also designed to care for players.
“Modern football is about youth. The perfect conglomerate of youth and experience is the basis for success at the senior level.
“With so many talented youngsters leaving the AIFF academy and knocking on the door of the national merit team, it was appropriate for them to be cut and included along with the experience of older professionals – all in an attempt to make the national team stronger and brought Indian football forward together. ”