Chhetri to play WC and Asian Cup Qualifiers in Doha
(Sourced from PTI)
Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri made a return after recovering from COVID-19 infection as a 28-member squad leaves for Doha on Wednesday for the three upcoming matches of the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers. After missing the two international friendly matches against Oman and the UAE on March 25 and 29, Chhetri will feature in the forthcoming games.
The Indian team is already out of contention for a World Cup berth but is still in the reckoning for the 2023 Asian Cup in China. "It's not an ideal situation to play Qualifiers. Due to the pandemic, our national camp which was slated to begin in Kolkata at the beginning of May was canceled," Head coach Igor Stimac said.
The Indian team will have a preparatory camp inside a bio-bubble in Doha before its first match on June 3 against Qatar. As per the health parameters required to travel to Qatar, all the players and staff will carry with them negative results from the RT-PCR COVID-19 tests conducted in the last 48 hours. Everyone was serving quarantine in Delhi since May 15.
FC Goa midfielder Glan Martins is the lone face to make it to the squad for the first time, while Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Pronoy Halder, and Abdul Sahal made a return to the national team setup. Midfielders Jeakson Singh, Raynier Fernandes, and Halicharan Narzary, who were in the 27-member squad for the international friendlies in March, missed out, as did forward Hitesh Sharma.
Defenders Rahul Bheke, Narender Gehlot, and Subhashish Bose were back in the squad while Ashutosh Mehta, Mandar Rao Dessai, and Mashoor Shereef were left out. Pritam Kotal, Chinglensana Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Akash Mishra also made the team. Stimac opted for three goalkeepers, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh, but Subhasish Roy Chowdhury missed out.
Below is the schedule of India's matches in Qualifiers: June 3: India vs Qatar (10:30 pm IST) June 7: Bangladesh vs India (7:30 pm IST) June 15: India vs Afghanistan (7:30 pm IST).