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India MNT assemble before World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh

Indian national team players doing warm up and stretching exercises. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
Indian national team players doing warm up and stretching exercises. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

The Indian National Team squad have assembled in Guwahati for the preparatory camp ahead of India’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier scheduled against Bangladesh at the VYBK Stadium in Kolkata on Tuesday (October 15, 2019). The squad will be practicing in Guwahati till October 12, and arrive in Kolkata the following day.

National Coach Igor Štimac mentioned everyone is ‘excited’ about the Blue Tigers’ return to Kolkata, the ‘Mecca of Indian Football,’ after a prolonged gap of eight years.

“Everyone expects us to win and many people already feel that this India team is at the beginning of a new and very successful era. Everyone in the camp is excited about National Team’s return to Kolkata. I have been told it’s been long 8 years we last played there. We intend to make it an unforgettable experience,” the Coach said.

“There was brilliant support for us in Guwahati (against Oman) and now we are expecting a full house in Kolkata also,” a buoyant Štimac said.

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The Blue Tigers will also be playing a friendly match against Hero Indian Super League side Northeast United FC in Guwahati.

“It’ll be a good test for us before facing Bangladesh and a great chance for all the players to fight for a place in the team,” Štimac mentioned.

Meanwhile, talismanic goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who donned the captain’s armband against Qatar on September 10, 2019, quipped he “can’t wait to hit the pitch.”

“It’s always about looking ahead and starting from scratch. We can’t wait to hit the pitch and get our first win. That’ll give our campaign some much-needed boost for the upcoming games in November and later,” Sandhu stated.

“I have played in Kolkata during my early days. But representing your country in front of the enthralling crowd of Kolkata will be a different experience altogether. We can’t wait to set the ball rolling,” Sandhu stressed.

It’ll also be a ‘dream-come-true’ situation for the local boy Pritam Kotal who is yet to represent the country at his home ground VYBK Stadium.

“It’ll be a dream-come-true moment for me to sing the National Anthem at the VYBK Stadium. It’ll be a challenge for us to face Bangladesh in Kolkata because they’ll also expect some support from the stands.”

“We’re upbeat before the camp in Guwahati and we need to be at the top of our game to get a positive result.”

(AIFF Media)