While Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga stadium will host Qatar in India’s FIFA World Cup 2022’s qualifier Group E match on March 26, it will be Kolkata, the Mecca of Indian football, that will host the upcoming qualifier game – against Afghanistan on June 9.
In the reverse fixture in September, India played a draw in Doha, following which its chances of progressing into the next round of the qualifiers remain slim. India have just three points from its five matches, and another three matches are remaining. In between Qatar and Afghanistan, India will travel to Bangladesh for a game. Sunil Chhetri and co. will be looking to get all six points from their two matches against lowly ranked Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, the Qatar tie will be difficult.
The Indian football team has been drawn alongside host Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh in Group E. Earlier Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium hosted the India vs Bangladesh qualifier game which the hosts lost. It is the second largest stadium in India by seating capacity and known as the Mecca of Indian football.
Ahead of the return fixture against Qatar, India’s head coach Igor Stimac has announced an 18-day national camp to practice as much as possible before the important game. He has also picked 43 probables for the Qatar match who will turn up in the camp after the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-league conclude.
"Time is very crucial for us. We have planned to utilise the maximum time possible, so we want to see as many players as possible before the Qatar match. As some players won't be able to join the camp because of their club commitments before the 16th, we'll use this time to assess other players," Stimac said.