Indian football team looking to seal Asian Cup berth in June qualifiers in Kolkata – The New Indian Express
NEW DELHI: Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac and players are excited to play their Asian Cup 2023 third round qualifying matches at home in June this year, saying they will be aiming to seal a place in the main tournament.
The 2023 Asian Cup third round qualifiers will be played at six centralized venues and the group matches involving India will be played at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata over three matchdays on June 8, 11 and 14 this year. .
The other five group matches will take place in Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.
The six group winners and the five best runners-up teams win a ticket to the Asian Cup, which kicks off on June 16 in China.
Stimac hopes spectators will be allowed to watch the games by then.
“We are very happy…we must prepare in the best possible way and pray that the fans have the opportunity to be with us at the stadium and cheer us on to victory,” Stimac said in a statement from the All Indian. Football Federation.
AIFF Player of the Year and centre-back Sandesh Jhingan said it was a “huge bonus” for the team to host the final round of the qualifiers in India.
“Playing such important games in your own backyard is always an added bonus, and that makes me happy. I hope the fans will flock to the stadium and support us.
“It will be an extra motivation for the players. We will do everything in our power to get the job done and bring happiness and pride to the fans. We are looking forward to it,” Jhingan said.
In preparation for the June qualifiers, the Blue Tigers play two international friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus on March 23 and 26, respectively.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu echoed the same sentiments, saying it’s an “advantage” to play at home.
“I am extremely happy that we are playing the qualifiers in Kolkata. It will give us immense inspiration while playing on our soil. I just can’t wait to join the team and start preparing. I pray that everyone stays free from injury.”
Gurpreet’s fellow goalkeeper Amrinder Singh said: “It will be quite an achievement for India to qualify for the Asian Cup in consecutive editions as it has never happened before.
“In that sense, winning the bid and getting it organized in Kolkata is so encouraging. Playing at home is always an added advantage. We have to make the most of it,” he added.