Barring their two games against Oman and UAE in March, the Indian football team hasn’t been on the field in the last one and a half year due to the pandemic. However, the Indian team is set to fly to Qatar for the remaining matches of the World Cup Qualifiers, which were postponed in 2019 owing to the pandemic. The Indian team is currently serving quarantine in a hotel in Delhi and will fly to Qatar on Wednesday. In Qatar, the team will go into the bubble before taking on the hosts on June 3. They will then take on Bangladesh and Afghanistan on June 7 and June 15 respectively.
Indian midfielder Anirudh Thapa feels that lack of games in recent times will make it difficult for the national team coach Igor Stimac to select the team for the World Cup Qualifiers.
“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 (not playing for long) could be at the back of our minds, the concerns over injury, how will you react to a given situation, all these could be there,” said Anirudh Thapa, during a virtual press conference.
He further revealed that the Indian players are fit and in good shape.
“We get fitness programmes everyday and we have been following them. So, we are fit and hoping to give our best. We were also told there could be matches coming up and to be mentally ready”
“World Cup qualifiers are big matches. We are representing the country and that is motivation enough to give our best.”
India’s scorelines were 0-0 against Qatar, 1-1 against Bangladesh and 1-1 against Afghanistan in the first leg of the qualifiers. When asked about the areas of improvements, Thapa said that the team needs to score more goals.
“We have to create more scoring chances, score more goals. “Against Qatar (in first leg), we played a different style of football. Against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, we played possession football but could not create chances and score goals. That is what we are lacking and that is our main concern.”
India are already knocked out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup place but they can still win few games in the qualifiers and make a strong case for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
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