All India Football Federation’s Kushal Das on Monday said the men’s national team will have its task cut out. Per the AIFF general secretary, coach Igor Stimac is faced with a tall order in the remaining joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Qatar next month.
The Blue Tigers were to have a national camp in Kolkata from May 2 onwards. However, the raging COVID-19 pandemic in the country led to its cancellation.
The AIFF was, however, determined to salvage the situation. Hence, they managed a shorter camp in Qatar following the 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.
Now the team, bolstered by talisman Sunil Chhetri’s return, is undergoing a preparatory camp inside a bio-bubble in Doha.
The AIFF general secretary expressed his gratitude to the Qatar Football Association (QFA). The QFA, despite quarantine and other restrictions, allowed the Indian team to train in a bio bubble.
“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 the last two months,” Das stated, in talks with PTI.
After all, the Blue Tigers have their first match on June 3 against host Qatar. Their other two matches are against Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15).
India Faces a Tall Order
The Indian team, fourth in Group E with three points, is out of contention for a World Cup berth.
Croatian World Cupper Stimac is one of the most high-profile coaches to manage the Indian men’s national football team.
He was appointed to the top post in May 2019 for a two-year term.
And during his tenure, Stimac has given opportunities to many promising youngsters in the team.
He has allowed them the freedom to express themselves on the field with a vision of nurturing a future-proof squad.
The AIFF top official is also all for grooming of players, and Das has praised him.
Per the AIFF General Secretary: “Coach Igor Stimac is faced with a tall order with Bangladesh having just finished their premier league and having been in a camp since then.”
“Many of the Afghan players also play in Europe and they have been in a camp in Dubai for some time now hence having more exposure and training,” he added.
“Modern day football is all about the youth. The perfect conglomeration of youth and experience is the bedrock for success at the senior level,” he continued.
“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.”