India to start FIFA, AFC qualifiers against Oman today

India to start FIFA, AFC qualifiers against Oman today

Agency News

Guwahati, Sep 5: India will launch its joint qualifying campaign for FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 against Oman when the two teams clash at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here today.

Taking on a strong Oman team, India will hope to begin their campaign on a winning note as they prepare to take on the visitors before a packed stadium of nearly 24,000 home crowd.

All tickets, sold online as well as through a counter at the Stadium, have reportedly been sold out as football enthusiasts from Guwahati and neighbouring parts look forward to a good match.

Indian head coach Igor Stimac, at a press conference on match eve yesterday, said the team was prepared to take on any challenge.

He said, "The preparations for the game went really well and as a coach, I am happy. This will be our third campaign and I am happy with the improvement in the team in terms of the understanding levels of the players and their fitness levels. We are well concentrated and well prepared."

India's star forward Sunil Chhetri, who has scored 71 goals in 111 appearances, said, "There is a great eagerness in the team and one really feels the pulse of excitement among the boys. We are really looking forward to the game. We had a great training camp and everyone in the team is fit and hungry. The players are gelling well and responding to what the coach expects from them."

Sunil was the lone scorer for India in a 2-1 loss against Oman in a similar qualifying match for FIFA World Cup 2018.

The last meeting between the two teams was in a friendly match in December last year that ended in a goalless draw.

India, who is ranked at 103 against 87th rank of the opponent, has so far won only once against Oman, with Oman winning four and two ending in draws.

After facing Oman, India will travel to Doha to face Qatar in their next FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier on September 10, 2019.

Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the other two teams that make up Group E. (UNI)