In a significant relief to the Indian football team and its fans, Qatar has allowed the national team to train in their country ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers next month, at the behest of an All India Football Federation (AIFF) request.
The team will leave on May 19, and the Gulf country has also accepted AIFF’s request to waive the mandatory 10-day challenging quarantine period on their arrival. The players will undergo a preparatory camp for almost two weeks in a bio-bubble before they play their first match on June 3.
"We are planning to fly the team on May 19 evening. There will be no quarantine (of the players), and they will be in a bio-bubble," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told PTI on Saturday.
Kushal also added that the players would assemble in New Delhi to undergo tests for COVID-19 before they leave for Qatar.
India are already out of contention for a 2022 FIFA World Cup berth, having lost two and drawn three of their five games in Group E.
The Blue Tigers, currently fourth with just three points, need a third-place finish to secure an automatic qualification for the 2023 Asian Cup qualifying third round.
Sunil Chhetri and Co. play Qatar, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in the upcoming round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The Asian Football Confederation in March picked Qatar as the centralised venue to host the remaining Group E matches. Oman is the fifth team in the group.
Earlier, a national camp was planned under head coach Igor Stimac in Kolkata from May 2 to 21, post which the team were to travel to Dubai on May 22 for a week-long camp and a friendly match.
However, the plan was shelved in light of the second wave of the pandemic that struck the entire nation. Hence, the AIFF considered the option to camp overseas before the World Cup qualifying round matches.
In March 2020, India played their first set of international matches since November 2019 in the form of friendlies, holding Oman to a 1-1 draw on March 25 but losing 0-6 to UAE on March 29 in Dubai.
Featured photo : Twitter/Indian Football Team