The fighting loss to Qatar done and dusted with, Indian footballers are now looking forward to their next match against Bangladesh in the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Playing with 10 men for a major part of the match, India went down 0-1 to Asian champions and FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar in their previous outing in the joint preliminary qualification round on Thursday.
Out of reckoning for next round of World Cup qualifiers but still hoping to make the continental showpiece in China in two years’ time, mid-fielder said Brandon Fernandes said the upcoming fixture is extremely crucial for the Blue Tigers, who are going through one of their longest winless streaks of all time.
“We are moving as a team and we need to back each other. We are aware that we have specific roles in the team. The next match is extremely crucial as we need to sustain the momentum gained in the first match. The first match is history,” Fernandes was quoted as saying by All India Football Federation.
India are above Bangladesh in rankings but defender Subhashish Bose acknowledged their opponents’ quality, having chosen to ignore the FIFA peking order.
“We are aware of the quality of the Bangladesh team. They are a side that plays a lot of counter-attacking football, and that is very dangerous. India versus Bangladesh have always been exciting and close matches. We have huge respect for Bangladesh,” Bose said.
India’s match against Bangladesh is scheduled for June 7.
In their previous match, Bangladesh came back from behind to hold Afghanistan 1-1 and earn a point.
“I am very pleased with the performance against Afghanistan. The players worked extremely hard. It reflects the attitude which this team possesses — to come back from behind and get back into the game,” Bangladesh coach Jamie Day said.
Captain Jamal Bhuyan, who had played for Mohammedan Sporting in the Hero I-League, feels it’s “going to be an intense match” when the two teams take the field.
“It will be intense — with a lot of battles. It’s a beautiful match to be a part of. Last time in Kolkata, we were disappointed not to get the 3 points as India scored very late in the game. We have that hunger in us, and we know we can do some damage,” he said.
“The confidence in our team is good at the moment. We had our chance of winning against Afghanistan. We take that confidence with us into the India game,” Jamal added.
Day pointed out the difference in the ranking between the two teams.
“India are a very good team. They are a much higher-ranked team than us who should be beating the likes of Bangladesh. The difference in ranking and quality is huge.
“In Kolkata, we did play very well. I look back and feel that India had an off-day on that night at the majestic YBK,” he said.
“You look at India’s last match against Qatar — with 10 men they fought like warriors and lost 0-1.
“It only depicts the quality in their side. We are looking forward to the game. We are aware that we need to play to our maximum, and hope India have another off-day.”
Meanwhile, Jamal said that there are talks of him playing in the ISL but added that “nothing is concrete as yet”.
“At the moment, there is nothing concrete. But I think if I join the ISL it would be a good move, and also there would be a huge following into the ISL from Bangladesh fans because they are crazy about football.”