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

Blue Tigers eye ‘huge opportunity’ against Bahrain, Belarus

The Indian national team squad in training. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
The Indian national team squad in training. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

The announcement of the International Friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus in March have been welcomed by the Blue Tigers, who mentioned that the matches present “a huge opportunity for us as a nation, and as a team to rub shoulders against such great teams”.

Current AIFF Player of the Year Sandesh Jhingan averred: “This is possibly one of the best news in recent times. That such International Friendlies could be arranged by AIFF under current circumstances speaks volumes.”

The Senior Indian Men’s National Team is scheduled to play two International Friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus on March 23, and March 26, 2022, respectively. Both the matches will be played in Manama, Bahrain from IST 9:30 pm onwards (7pm local time, Bahrain).

“These are the sort of matches that we need. We played Bahrain last time in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, and are aware they are a very good side. We also understand that Belarus are a powerful side too,” Sandesh added.

National Team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said: “It will be an extremely tough challenge, and a good one to play a side from a UEFA Member Association, which in itself is a big achievement.”

“Teams in UEFA get to play against the best in the world as they regularly rub shoulders against them. So, they will come with all the experience, and present us the perfect opportunity to test ourselves,” Gurpreet maintained.

“The Federation has done a great job arranging these two matches. I see this as a real step moving forward towards our preparation ahead of the final round of the Asian Cup qualifiers in June 2022,” Gurpreet expressed.

Sandesh was quick to make a note about the “quality and potential” in the current squad.

“We have a lot of quality, and potential in our squad. We look forward to these games to improve as a team, and be fully prepared for the final qualifying round of the Asian Cup in June. We understand the significance of such matches,” he explained.

Star midfielder Anirudh Thapa also stressed that the two matches will be an “exhilarating experience.”

“A lot of teams haven’t had a chance to play competitive matches due to the pandemic. And here we are, with two matches scheduled against Bahrain and Belarus. I feel we are lucky, and playing against such competent sides will be an exhilarating experience,” he opined.

“Such matches will not only facilitate and advertise the development of Indian Football on the global stage, but also lay a foundation for the upcoming generation to learn from our hits, and misses,” he felt.

(AIFF Media)