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Igor Stimac Urges AIFF Technical Committee to Choose Venue with High Capacity for the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match against Kuwait

The head coach of the Indian national football team, Igor Stimac, has emphasized the importance of a significant turnout for the pivotal World Cup qualifier against Kuwait scheduled for June. According to the president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Kolkata is among the potential venues being considered for this crucial match.

Indian Football Team Coach Igor Stimac Image Credits Twitter 1 Igor Stimac Urges AIFF Technical Committee to Choose Venue with High Capacity for the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match against Kuwait
Indian Football Team Coach Igor Stimac, Image Credits- Twitter

Taking various factors into account, including limited time for preparation, absence of GPS vests, injuries to key players, and being placed in the toughest group of the Asian Cup, India’s descent to 117th in the FIFA rankings comes as a disappointment but not as a shock. This marks their lowest ranking in seven years.

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Assessing India’s Asian Cup Performance and Shifting Focus to World Cup Qualifiers: Insights from IM Vijayan

India’s performance in the recently concluded Asian Cup saw them finish at the bottom of their group after losing 0-2 to Australia, 0-3 to Uzbekistan, and 0-1 to Syria. This disappointing outcome coincided with hosts Qatar reclaiming the title, marking a significant turnaround from their dismal performance in the World Cup. Qatar’s triumph propelled them up 21 places in the FIFA rankings, placing them in the top 50 for the first time.

Surprising many, Jordan emerged as the runners-up in the tournament, climbing 17 spots to 70th in the world rankings, surpassing teams like Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, and Iceland. The Asian Cup also witnessed declines for notable teams like China and Vietnam, who had reached the quarter-finals in the previous editions but were eliminated in the first round in Doha.

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IM Vijayan Image Credits Wikipedia jpg Igor Stimac Urges AIFF Technical Committee to Choose Venue with High Capacity for the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match against Kuwait
IM Vijayan, Image Credits- Wikipedia

India’s decline in the rankings was particularly steep, further exemplified by their bottom-of-the-group finish in 2019 and their failure to qualify for the 2015 finals.

IM Vijayan, the chair of the technical committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), has advised head coach Igor Stimac to shift focus from the results in Qatar, emphasizing that they are now in the past. He stressed that the primary focus should be on the upcoming matches in the March and June FIFA windows, directing attention towards the World Cup qualifiers.

Igor Stimac Urges Technical Committee to Secure Home Advantage Against Kuwait

If India manages to secure a position among the top two in their group, which includes Afghanistan and Kuwait, it will mark their first advancement to the third round of qualifiers. The recent 1-0 victory against Kuwait away significantly enhances India’s chances of achieving this goal. Additionally, securing a third-round berth will guarantee qualification for the 2027 Asian Cup finals.

Head coach Igor Stimac emphasized the importance of the upcoming matches during a meeting with the technical committee on February 10, stating that the game against Kuwait holds paramount significance. The team is scheduled to play Afghanistan away on March 21, possibly in Saudi Arabia, followed by a home fixture against Afghanistan in Guwahati on March 26. Subsequently, India will face Kuwait at home on June 6 and Qatar away on June 11 in the next set of crucial games.

Indian Football Team Coach Igor Stimac, Image via Twitter
Indian Football Team Coach Igor Stimac, Image via Twitter

During the meeting, Stimac expressed his desire by stating, “I will kindly request you as Technical Committee TC members to influence everyone,” emphasizing the importance of holding the home game against Kuwait at a venue where a large crowd can inspire us towards victory.

AIFF President and Technical Committee Consider Kolkata as Front-Runner to Host Crucial India vs. Kuwait Match

AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey announced on Friday that Hyderabad, a center in Maharashtra, and Kolkata have shown interest in hosting the crucial game against Kuwait. Chaubey emphasized the importance of considering the head coach’s suggestion regarding the venue for the national team’s matches, indicating that the decision-making process will involve discussions with all stakeholders within the AIFF.

Among the available options, Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata stands out with a capacity of nearly 67,000 spectators. Anirban Dutta, the honorary secretary of the Indian Football Association (IFA), highlighted Kolkata’s world-class infrastructure, citing its successful hosting of the men’s FIFA under-17 World Cup. Additionally, Dutta emphasized the fervent support for football in Bengal, suggesting that India can count on enthusiastic backing from the passionate local fans, often referred to as the “12th player.”

AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey Image Credits X Twitter Igor Stimac Urges AIFF Technical Committee to Choose Venue with High Capacity for the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match against Kuwait
AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey, Image Credits-

India has not played in Kolkata since the Asian Cup qualifiers in June 2022, where impressive turnouts were witnessed in each of the three games held in Group D. Notably, India secured a convincing 4-0 victory against Hong Kong in front of over 40,000 spectators. Reflecting on past matches, the turnout for the clash against Bangladesh in 2019 reached an impressive 61,486 spectators.

Highlighting the potential impact of the Kolkata crowd, a member of the technical committee and former international player, who enjoyed a successful career in the city, emphasized the significance of the passionate support from the local fans. The enthusiastic atmosphere generated by the Kolkata crowd has historically played a crucial role in boosting the morale of the Indian team and can make a difference in the upcoming important fixture against Kuwait.

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