The Indian men’s football team has applauded the Asian Football Federation (AFC) for its decision to reschedule qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup.
Last week, the AFC postponed all the remaining fixtures of the 2022 World Cup to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Indian players have supported this decision, saying the health of the players should always be the priority.
With 3 draws and 2 defeats in the first five games, India is all but out of the contention for the next round of World Cup qualifiers. But the team still has a lot to play for with these fixtures also serving as the qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup. The Blue Tigers were scheduled to play Qatar at home on 8th October followed by final two games against Afghanistan (home) and Bangladesh (away) in November.
Players React to AFC’s Decision:
During his discussion with the AIFF TV, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said: “I had a feeling about it. With the pandemic, it’s not a very good situation — to have a resumption of international football right now. It is important to have safety in mind.”
“I’m raring to get back on the pitch. I can assure it’s the same for the rest of the players too. From a player’s perspective if you don’t get an opportunity to play you get ready for the next one.”
“My first thought after the announcement was that our wait to get back gets longer. But we need to think from a bigger perspective as well. Safety is important. I fully stand by the decision,” said Anirudh Thapa. India’s last international outing came in November last year when they lost 0-1 to Oman in the qualifiers.
“It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation. We are all sorely missing out on being out there on the pitch, but on the other hand, we also have to take into consideration the safety of everyone involved in organizing a match,” said Indian defender Adil Khan.
Another Indian defender, Pritam Kotal also shared similar thoughts on the postponement. “We all saw what happened with the Bangladesh players and the players of the Indian hockey team. Many of them tested positive,” Kotal said.
“I think when you have this kind of a situation at hands, it is wise to delay international sporting events that can be held at a later stage. Not only do you lose a lot of players for some while because of the virus, but the safety of these players are also in doubt,” he added.