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AIFF hoping Qatar can waive quarantine

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India’s request to defer the qualifiers due to the second wave of Covid-19 leading to a massive surge in cases and deaths in the country has been turned down by the Asian Football Confederation. The best-case scenario for the India football team ahead of next month’s World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers in Qatar is a preparatory camp for less than a fortnight. At worst, Igor Stimac’s team may have to play their first game in over two months after a practice session or two.Qatar has mandated a 10-day quarantine for travelers from India. “The Qatar Football Association is trying to see if that avoided and that we go to Doha next week and train there,” said Kushal Das, the general secretary of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Tuesday.

India’s request to defer the qualifiers due to the second wave of Covid-19 leading to a massive surge in cases and deaths in the country has been turned down by the Asian Football Confederation. India are not thinking of pulling out, said Das. “If we are allowed to go, we will.”

India is scheduled to play Qatar on June 3, Bangladesh on June 7, and Afghanistan on June 15. While India is out of contention for a final round berth in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, a third-place finish in Group E will help them get to the third round of qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup finals in China. With three points from five games, India are fourth in Group E, one point behind Afghanistan.

“It is possible we will ask players to travel separately and not as a team. Till we get them tested we wouldn’t even know how many can travel as players are now at home and many have had Covid-19 cases in their families,” said Das.

After 492 days without a competitive game, India played two friendlies on March 25 and 29. Stimac handed caps to 11 new players as India drew 1-1 with Oman and lost 0-6 to UAE.

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