2022 World Cup Qualifiers | Under the careful eye of coach Igor Stimac, the Indian football squad is hard at work in Doha, preparing for their forthcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Qatar, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. Even though most of the players had not played competitively since the Indian Super League (ISL) concluded in March, Stimac has been managed to bring the club up to speed in Qatar.
India arrived in Doha on May 19 and has been permitted to practice every day since then, thanks to Qatar’s decision to suspend the necessary strict quarantine for Indian travelers.
The players would have been unable to leave their rooms for 10-14 days due to the strict quarantine, which would have been a major setback for the preparations.
It should be mentioned that the majority of India’s sports contingents, including the Indian cricket team, have been subjected to strict quarantines by governments all over the world. On June 3, the Indian cricket team is scheduled to go to England for the World Test Championship. Due to strict quarantine restrictions in England, the squad was forced to enter a 14-day bio-bubble in India, which they will remain in till they depart.
Only the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Indian Boxing contingent have received such benefits.
Despite assistance from the Qatar Football Association (QFA) and involvement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the AIFF has made the most of a difficult position (PMO).
“It wasn’t simple (getting Qatar to relax its strict quarantine standards) since we had to go all the way to the PMO, the Ministry of Health, to gain that approval. But it was feasible because of our outstanding connection with QFA,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das told Goal.com.
“We owe the QFA a huge debt of gratitude for their assistance. Otherwise, the team would have arrived in Doha on May 30th without a training camp. That would’ve been a catastrophe.”
If India had arrived in Doha on May 30, the opening game against Qatar would have been four days later, on June 3, which would not have been ideal. Furthermore, given India’s current Covid-19 issue, holding a camp anywhere in the country would have been impossible.
Das further stated that the AIFF attempted to organize camps in Kolkata, Turkey, and other nations, but that only Doha remained a viable option. As a result, the squad arrived in Qatar early.
Das remarked, “It was incredibly challenging. Something went wrong with our plans. We were meant to be in Kolkata, but it was impossible due to the elections and Covid’s second wave. Then we planned to travel to Dubai and Doha. Flights and Indians are still barred from entering Dubai.
We explored Turkey and other options, but nothing worked out. The only flights available were Delhi-Doha and Mumbai-Doha. Our president, Praful Patel, also assisted, and the positive connection aided the process.
We are thankful that the squad has been allowed to train for 2-3 hours every evening since arriving in Qatar. At the very least, it has allowed them to get in shape. I believe Igor is tremendously happy now that so many players have improved their fitness.”