The results of the two international friendlies in Dubai will have no impact on qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup, Indian soccer team members said as they prepared for the upcoming matches at a preparation camp in Doha. After a long COVID-19 hiatus, India returned to a 1-1 draw in Oman, but lost 6-0 in the two international friendly matches against the UAE in March.
“The less we think about it, the better. It’s over. But it’s important to remember what happened to understand the part we need to work on,” Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said in one AIFF press release. “We have three clean slates in front of us. It is up to us what we have to write on them.” The senior national team will face Asian champions Qatar in their first game on June 3rd.
The other two games are against Bangladesh (June 7th) and Afghanistan (June 15th). “The prospects for Dubai and Doha are completely different. In Dubai we played two different teams in both games. That was our return to international football after almost 16 months,” said defender Pritam Kotal. “The two games allowed us to beat all the negatives. June is sure to be better.”
The Blue Tigers landed in Doha on May 19 and were quarantined at the team hotel until they received the results of the RTPCR tests performed on their arrival. India made their debut to 10 players in the friendly against Oman, with Anirudh Thapa describing the goalless draw as a “great result for Indian football”. “We have had a great positive impact on Oman – including that with 10 debutants.
I always look at the positives and that was a great result for me for Indian football. “We will have a full squad in the qualifiers. The Dubai results will have absolutely no impact in Doha.” The qualifiers will be played in Doha in light of the COVID pandemic, which the original format of home and away matches does not allow. The Indian team, which is fourth in Group E with three points, is no longer trying to get a World Cup place, but is still expecting the Asian Cup in China in 2023.