The Indian men’s football team will play international friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus
FILE PHOTO: The last time India played against a UEFA member association was over a decade ago in February 2012 against Azerbaijan, a game the rivals won 3-0 .
India’s senior men’s national football team will play two international friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus on March 23 and 26, respectively, the sport’s top governing body announced on Friday.
Both matches will be played in Manama, Bahrain.
The matches are part of the preparation for the national team’s campaign in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup third round qualifier, which is due to be held in June.
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“Given the current circumstances, it was extremely difficult to find the kind of opponents we were looking for. But I’m very happy that we have both matches on our schedule,” said head coach Igor Stimac.
“We are doing our best to prepare well for the upcoming AFC China 2023 Asian Cup final qualifying round, and these two matches will greatly facilitate our preparation process,” he added.
“Bahrain and Belarus are higher ranked than us, and if all goes well with the Hero ISL (Indian Super League) season with our boys performing well and playing competitive matches, we should be ready,” said the manager. ‘coach.
Bahrain is ranked 91st in the FIFA rankings, while Belarus is 94th. India’s current ranking is 104th.
The last time India faced a UEFA member association was more than a decade ago, in February 2012 against Azerbaijan, a game the rivals won 3-0.
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“Playing against better teams is the best way to improve our own game because it allows the boys to mature playing against, and with better speed.
“Our youngsters need more exposure and time to play and train. Sometimes the results can suffer, but if we follow the path we will soon have a better future,” Stimac said.
The Belarusian contingent consists of many international players who ply their trade in the Russian Premier League (three players), as well as the Premier League (three players), while a few others are also under contract with clubs in Hungary, the Czech Republic and in Cyprus.
Stimac, who guided Croatia to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, also stressed the importance of taking “the necessary precautions and staying safe”. “We have to keep planning and working because everything is fine and normal. But at the same time we have to take precautions to stay as safe as possible in our efforts to avoid unpleasant situations,” he said.
With the rights to broadcast the matches belonging to the Bahrain Federation, the Indian Football Federation (AIFF) is in discussion with them as well as the Belarusian Federation for the live broadcast of the matches in India.