Indian Football Team Preparing to Face Bahrain in International Friendlies
It was recently announced that the Indian football team will play international friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus. They will face off against Bahrain on March 23rd, then take on Belarus on March 26th, but the friendly match against Belarus has been called off as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both contests were to be played in Manama, Bahrain. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) secretary-general Kushal Das said:
They will instead try and schedule two matches against Bahrain. These matches will give India a chance to fine-tune their game as they prepare for the third qualifying round for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Warming Up for the Third Qualifying Round
Head coach Igor Stimac seemed pleased with the opportunity to play these particular opponents. He said:
The Indian team is doing its best to prepare for the final qualifying round in June and that these two matches will help immensely.
Bahrain is ranked 91st in the FIFA rankings while India currently sits at 104. Stimac stated that he welcomes these matches against better teams as it is the best way to improve India’s game.
His team needs more experience and time to play. Even though the results may not be optimal, following this path will lead to a better future for the international squad.
This is possibly one of the best news in recent times. That such International Friendlies could be arranged by AIFF under the current circumstances speaks volumes.
He went on to say that these upcoming matches are just what the team needs. He reflected on having played against Bahrain in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. He and the rest of the team know that Bahrain is a very good club.
Odds Not Yet Released
While the odds for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup won’t be released until all 24 teams have qualified, a few teams appear to be emerging as early favourites. Iran, South Korea, and Australia will generate a lot of betting action. Meanwhile, Japan is expected to compete for the title after winning four of the past eight tournaments. Japan lost out to Qatar in the 2019 cup finals.
The odds for the friendlies against Bahrain haven’t been released by online betting sites yet, but this should change soon. However, it’s safe to say that the Indian team will be playing the role of underdog in both matches. This is especially true as Bahrain will be playing in front of its home crowd.
Still, it’s not like the Indian football team is in way over its head. Even though they are ranked lower in the FIFA rankings than Bahrain, it’s not by a very large margin. Coming out of these two friendlies with a split is well within the realm of possibility and would provide a huge confidence boost to an Indian team that is focused on the qualifying round in June.
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