In March, the Indian football squad will face Bahrain and Belarus, both of whom are ranked below 100 in the world football rankings. Since winning the SAFF Championship in October, the national squad has been out of play.
Upcoming Match in March
According to reports, clubs agreed to release players for international matches outside of the Fifa schedule – SAFF Cup, Under-23 AFC qualifiers – on the condition that they would not be required for national duty during the Indian Super League (ISL). Quarantine laws, clubs claim, make it difficult to release players because the ISL is being played inside a bio-secure bubble for the second year in a row.
That may explain why the All India Football Federation (AIFF) would not participate in the Fifa window from January 24 to February 1. However, when the ISL closes on March 20, the Indian team will play friendlies in Manama against Bahrain (ranked 91) and Belarus (ranked 94). The two friendly matches are scheduled between March 23 and March 26.
“These will be good friendlies and help India prepare for the final round of the Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers,” said a senior AIFF official. “With a change in the qualifying format and just three matches to be played, it’s important to have the best preparation against quality opponents.”
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has changed the final round of qualifiers from a traditional home and away format to a single round-robin format with ties held in central locations.
About the Tournament
Rather than beginning on February 1 as originally scheduled, the competition will now begin in June, with only three matches remaining for teams to achieve their qualification goals.
“Fewer matches are helpful to the weaker teams (in the group) to sneak something out,” coach Igor Stimac had previously told TOI. “We should be favorites in the group which will be nominated, but it won’t be an easy task.” Stimac is said to be eager to begin preparations as soon as the ISL league phase concludes.
Players whose teams are competing in the playoffs will be added later. The final round matches will be scheduled on June 8, June 11, and June 14, according to the AFC. When the groups are finalized, India, rated 104, is projected to be in Pot 1 and will learn about its opponents next month