Guwahati: With Assam all set to host the upcoming football World Cup qualifiers at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Sarusajai on September 5, the Indian men’s football team reached Guwahati on Monday ahead of their match against Oman.
The match will kick off India’s FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign, and also the joint-qualification process for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Many of the players in the Indian men football squad labelled Guwahati as a special venue for them, with Sandesh Jhingan and Pritam Kotal having made their international debuts at the venue in 2015, when India took on Nepal in the qualifiers for the World Cup qualifiers.
The Indian football team headed to Guwahati after attending a preparatory camp in Goa on August 20.
Expressing confidence, Assam born boy, Vinit Rai, who was born in Duliajan of Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district, said that he hopes a victory against Oman will help the “ease the pain for people in Assam, after a number of people lost their lives due to floods in the state”.
Rai further revealed that entire team was very much concerned about the flood condition in Assam that kept enquiring of the situation every day.
Remembering to the team’s victory against Oman in 2015 at Bengaluru, Rai said that the Indian team gave a close fight to the opponents. He further informed that Indian team had also played a draw match against Oman in a friendly match held prior to the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
The 23 member preliminary squad of Indian Football team, comprises of Goal Keepers: Gurpeet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh, Vishal Kaith; Defenders: Rahul Bheke, Nishu Kumar, Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Narender Gahlot, Sarthak Golui, Adil Khan, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai; Midfilelders: Nikhil Poojary, Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Rowllin Borges, Brandon Fernandes, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan and Forwards: Balwant Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh.
Interestingly, the decision to hold the match in Guwahati was taken by the Asian Football Confederation after an inspection of the venue and keeping in mind that most of the Indian Super League matches were being played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium right from its starting seasons. Moreover, the infrastructure and facilities in the stadium have been drastically improved by the authorities concerned over the years, making it fit to hold any kind of international games.
The tickets for the upcoming India Vs Oman qualifier match are already on the sale and it can be booked through various online applications including the BookMyShow website.
The Indian football team has been clubbed in Group E alongside Bangladesh, Oman, Afghanistan and hosts Qatar. According to the schedule, the Blue Tigers coached by Croatian Igor Stimac are slated to take on Oman in their first game at home. The team will also take on Bangladesh at home, the venue for which is likely to be Kolkata”s Vivekananda Yuba Bharari Krirangan stadium as Guwahati hosting the neighbours could lead to unwanted tension after the episode in regards to Assam’s National Register of Citizens process which aims at identifying undocumented migrants.