Indian football team begins training in Doha for joint Qualifiers
All the players and support staff of the Indian football team have tested negative for COVID-19 after arrival in Qatar on Wednesday and have also started training ahead of the joint Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup next month. The team was under compulsory quarantine and waiting for the results of their RT-PCR tests before starting their preparatory camp.
Team to play first match against Qatar on June 3
"All 28 players and support staff tested negative in the tests done after their arrival," All India Football Federation General-Secretary Kushal Das said. The team, bolstered by the return of Sunil Chhetri, will have a preparatory camp inside a bio-bubble in Doha before its first match on June 3 against Qatar. The other two matches are against Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15).
AIFF tweeted the photos of players and coach Igor Stimac
India played out a draw against Qatar in 2019
India played out a 0-0 draw against reigning Asian Champions Qatar in Doha in the first leg in 2019. After that impressive show, India could not win against Bangladesh (at home) and Afghanistan (at a neutral venue), playing out identical 1-1 stalemates.
A 10-day hard quarantine was waived off
Through the good offices of Qatar Football Association, a 10-day hard quarantine was waived off for the Indians and they began training as soon as they got the negative test results for COVID-19. The matches are being played in Doha in view of the COVID-19 pandemic which doesn't allow the original format of home and away matches.
Indian team is out of contention for a WC berth
The Indian team, fourth in Group E with three points, is already out of contention for a World Cup berth but is still in the reckoning for the 2023 Asian Cup in China. The Indian players were to have a national camp in Kolkata from May 2 onwards but the raging pandemic in the country led to its cancellation.
India has played only two matches in last two months
Notably, due to the devastating second wave of the COVID-19, the Indian team has been able to play only two matches in the last two months— the international friendlies against Oman and Qatar on March 25 and March 29, respectively.