The Indian national football team arrived in Doha a few days ago to play their remaining World Cup qualifiers against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Igor Stimac has already announced his squad as crucial players like Brandon Fernandes, Sunil Chhetri and Sahal Abdul Samad have made their comeback. After stunning performances in the AFC Champions League, Glan martins got his first call-up, but unfortunately, his teammate Seriton Fernandes misses out due to Covid. Now the star-studded Indian team is likely to face the Philippines in an unofficial friendly to prepare for the crucial games ahead.
“The AIFF is in talks for a training match with the Philippines in Doha ahead of India’s first match against Qatar on June 3. If it happens, it will be a closed-door match with no spectator or TV allowed as both teams are inside a very secured bio bubble. It is also not a FIFA day,” a source close to the development informed IFTWC.
All the players except the ones who played in AFC Champions League and AFC Cup qualifiers haven’t had much action after the Indian Super League came to an end. Just after the conclusion of ISL, India played against Oman and UAE, where we saw many young players got their debuts and managed to impress head coach Igor Stimac. Igor Stimac had planned a preparatory camp in Kolkata, but the idea wasn’t feasible because of increasing Covid cases. The game against the Philippines would help our players to get back to match fitness and get ready for the decisive games against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Ranked 124th in the world, the Philippines are a side that relies heavily on their origin players. Their key players like custodian Neil Etheridge and winger Gerrit Holtman have had their chance to shine in Europe’s top 5 leagues. Although the Philippines are ranked below India, It will be a stern test for the blue tigers. On the other hand, the Philippines haven’t played a single game since November 2019, which might be an advantage for India, who have had the chance to face quality opponents like UAE and Oman.
The All India Football Federation has almost agreed on all terms with the Philippines Football Federation, and the friendly is set to take place in the next few days. The game will not be telecasted and will be played inside closed doors. But the players will get much-needed game time to prepare for the upcoming qualifiers.
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