THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Blue Tigers express ‘delight’ over matches against “very tough opponents”

The Indian national team players during the national anthem. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
The Indian national team players during the national anthem. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

With the Indian Men’s National Team all set to return back to International football in March, members of the Blue Tigers expressed their delight over the two matches being finalised in Dubai against Oman on March 25, and UAE on March 29 respectively.

“It’s a brilliant piece of news not just for us players but for Indian football overall that we will be playing again at the international arena,” goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu opined.

“With international sports having shut down owing to the pandemic situation, I am aware as to how difficult it is to arrange matches under the current scenario. I need to thank the All India Football Federation and the coaching staff for arranging this,” he continued. “Both the matches are against very tough oppositions whom we would love to play against, and test ourselves.”

Central defender Sandesh Jhingan dubbed the forthcoming two matches as “massive.”

“It’s a great piece of news which the entire nation was waiting for. It’s massive for the fans, and for us players as well as we haven’t played an international match in the last one and half years. Thanks to the AIFF for arranging this,” Jhingan stressed.

“It’s important for us to get back into the system of Igor Stimac, start training and improving. There are crucial games coming up in June which would be followed by the Qualifiers of the Asian Cup China 2023. The camp in March are just extra days to train and improve together as a team. I am extremely happy,” he averred.

Guepreet also mentioned that as the players would be coming straight out of their club commitments in the Hero Indian Super League, it would be a “big boost.”

“The two friendlies happening straight after the Hero Indian Super League will be a big boost. Most of the boys will be in momentum and heading straight to the national camp. That’s what the players always love – to have that continuity heading into international football. We are all looking forward to the boys going out and giving their best.”

As part of the preparation for the two matches against Oman and UAE in March, the Blue Tigers will assemble in a preparatory camp in Dubai from March 15 onwards.

The two friendlies come on the back of the U-16 Boy’s National Team having travelled to UAE in February 2021, and the Women’s National Team’s tour to Turkey where they played matches against Serbia, Russia and Ukraine.

(Nilanjan Datta / AIFF Media)