The Indian National Football Team head coach also revealed that players from Mumbai City and ATKMB may not participate in the national camp.

India have been drawn alongside Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and Cambodia in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Final Round Qualifiers at the official draw ceremony which was conducted at the Asian Football Confederation Headquarters earlier today. The leg which will kick-off on June 8 will be played at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in June with India taking on Cambodia on June 8. India’s next two matches are against Afghanistan on June 11, and Hong Kong on June 14.

“Draws can always be good or bad. But we need to do our job,” Head Coach Igor Stimac stated immediately after the draw.

“We plan to begin our preparatory camp in Kolkata from the first week of May. But players from Mumbai City FC won’t be available before May 29 owing to their club commitments in the AFC Champions League. Furthermore, most likely ATK Mohun Bagan is also likely to be involved in the AFC Cup, and their players will also be unavailable till May 25,” Stimac informed. “And there are almost 12 or more players from both the clubs who are part of the National Team,” said Igor Stimac.

The Blue Tigers are playing Bahrain and Belarus on March 23, and March 26 respectively in two International Friendlies.

“In such a situation, we need to check on other players, prepare them and wait for the others to join. The situation is very similar to March prior to the Friendlies,” added Igor Stimac.

Commenting about the teams in the group, the Head Coach urged everyone to “take it seriously to get the job done.”

“Afghanistan have always been a difficult opponent. They come with players who have experience playing in international leagues, and Hong Kong will also be strengthened when their three players from Brazil, maybe one each from the UK, and New Zealand join them, along with a host of others who play abroad. But we need to justify our position as a pot 1 team,” the Head Coach averred.

“We are playing at home, and hopefully with the fans cheering us from the stands, the players will be extra motivated.”

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