The Blue Tigers will also face an I-League all-stars side and ATK Mohun Bagan in two practise matches.
The Indian football team are reportedly set to play four matches in May as preparation ahead of Asian Cup 2023 Final Round qualifiers in June. As per TOI, the Blue Tigers will be playing two preparatory matches in Kolkata. After the completion of the practice matches, Igor Stimac’s side will head towards Doha for two international friendlies.
In the Asian Cup qualifiers, India are undoubtedly the favourites to seal the group stage drama this time. They are paired with Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia. These countries are well behind India in terms of FIFA Rankings. The Indian football team will play against these teams on 8th,11th and 14th June respectively.
The Preparatory Matches
India’s first practice game will be against ATK Mohun Bagan on 11th May. This is a win-win situation for both parties as the Mariners will be preparing for the AFC Cup match against Gokulam Kerala (18th May). Juan Ferrando’s side was one of the strongest in the recently concluded Indian Super League season. Thus, this match will be beneficial for both ATK Mohun Bagan and the national team.
The second match will take place on 17th May, against the I-League Stars. Kolkata’s Yuva Bharati Krirangan will be the destination for both these encounters.
Eventually, after their Kolkata expedition, the India football team will head towards Doha to play two pre-scheduled friendlies. India will be facing Zambia on 25th May. Three days later, on 28th May, they’ll lock horns with Jordan,” says the report.
Home Advantage in the Qualifiers
Currently, the Indian football team is training in Bellary. On May 9, Igor Stimac’s men will be heading back to Kolkata. The best part is that India will be playing all the qualifiers in Kolkata. The football-frenzied city will be all set to fill up the seats and support the Blue Tigers at such an auspicious event.
Regarding the qualification
From the available 24 spots, 13 teams have already qualified for the Asian Cup 2023. Meanwhile, the other 11 spots are up for grabs during the qualifiers in June. The 6 group winners will claim automatic qualification and the remaining five best runners-up will join them.