Igor Stimac believes that hosting Qatar and Afghanistan in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers without fans would be a great disadvantage for the Indian football team. India is set to play the remaining matches of the qualifiers in October-November, later this year as per the revised dates.
India’s aspirations of playing in the 2022 Qatar World Cup is all but over, with them failing to win a single match in the qualifiers so far, but they can still make a cut for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The three matches left in the group stages have been postponed to October-November later this year owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, but they are likely to be played in front of empty stands. Head coach Igor Stimac feels that hosting teams like Qatar and Afghanistan without fans would be a disadvantage for the Indian side.
“Everyone knows how important are our supporters to us all the way back from the start. I just pray that everything settles down until October. The team looks forward to playing in front of a full house – both in Bhubaneswar and Kolkata,” said Igor Stimac, to PTI.
We have seen huge turnouts during the two home matches in the qualifiers - in Guwahati and Kolkata. It was the match against Bangladesh at the Salt Lake Stadium that saw around 60,000 people cheering for the ‘Blue Tigers.’ Even though the match against Afghanistan is most likely to be played at the same venue, there is a high possibility that it would be played behind closed doors. Meanwhile, India’s home match against Qatar will be staged at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar on October 8.