Indian football team leaves for Doha for June qualifiers

New Delhi : India football team head coach Igor Stimac named the 28-member squad that will leave for Doha on Wednesday evening for its three forthcoming matches in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers, which will begin from June 3.

The Indian team will have a preparatory camp inside a bio-bubble in Doha before their first match.

Captain Sunil Chhetri, who missed the two international friendly matches against Oman and the UAE in March, made a return to the side after recovering from COVID-19 infection.

”It’s such a relief to be back in the National team squad – after all, home is where the heart is. Personally, I am eagerly looking forward to being in Doha. The last time I was in Doha, I couldn’t be a part of the match against Qatar owing to illness,” Chhetri, who has 72 international goals to his name, said.

”The matches in June are extremely tough and we need to take them one at a time. Given the fact that we don’t have much time, the preparatory camp will add immense value helping all to gel together, and strike that chord ahead of the first match.

”Doha has always had an emotional connection with me. It was there that I played in the 2011 Asian Cup, and also the AFC Cup final for my club Bengaluru FC,” he added.

Among the 28 named for the camp, Glan Martins is the sole player to have made it to a national team camp for the first-time ever.

India are scheduled to play Asian Champions Qatar on June 3, Bangladesh on June 7, and Afghanistan on June 15 with all three matches to be played at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha.

”As per the health parameters required to travel to Qatar, all the travelling players and staff carry with them negative test results from the RTPCR tests conducted in the last 48 hours. All of them were also in isolation in the Capital under the bio bubble at the team hotel from May 15 onwards,” the AIFF said in a statement.

Coach Stimac stated that although it is not the ‘ideal situation’ ahead of the June Qualifiers, the Blue Tigers will be putting in ‘intense’ sessions before their matches get underway.

”It’s not an ideal situation as we move ahead to the Qualifiers in June. Due to the pandemic, our National Camp which was slated to begin in Kolkata at the beginning of May had to get cancelled. The pandemic also robbed us of a friendly match in Dubai,” he said.

”However, we understand the magnitude of the situation, and it will be intense sessions in Doha to raise the tempo and try to get ready for the matches which starts with the one against the Asian Champions Qatar in Doha,” he added.

Blue Tigers are currently on 3 points from 3 matches in Group E.

India’s fixtures:
June 3: India vs Qatar (2230 hrs IST).
June 7: Bangladesh vs India (1930 hrs IST).
June 15: India vs Afghanistan (1930 hrs IST).
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Narender Gehlot, Chinglensana Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Akash Mishra, Subhashish Bose.
Midfoelders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco, Rowllin Borges, Glan Martins, Anirudh Thapa, Pronoy Halder, Suresh Singh, Lalengmawia Ralte, Abdul Sahal, Yasir Mohammad, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan.
Forwards: Ishan Pandita, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh.