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India targeting September training camp ahead of Qatar tie


New Delhi: India are hoping to kick off their preparations for the resumption of the Asian Qualifiers with a training camp in September.

All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das said the camp, depending on the approval of relevant authorities, will be in Bhubaneswar.

India are scheduled to play Qatar in their next FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers Group E in Bhubaneswar on October 8.

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"Our plan is to start the camp sometime in early September. We want the camp in Bhubaneswar as the match against Qatar was scheduled there," said Das to AIFF TV.

"We’re in touch with the State Government of Odisha as well as SAI. We are expecting to get a response from them. It’s a very tricky situation but we need to come up with the best possible solution given the circumstances."

While India only have a marginal chance of advancing to the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers, the South Asian side can still make it to the final stage of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

Igor Stimac's side have three points with ties against Qatar (October 8), Bangladesh (November 12) and Afghanistan (November 17) to come.

They are fourth in the standings with reigning AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar in the lead on 13 points. Oman (12) and Afghanistan (4) complete the top three with Bangladesh on one point.

Das said AIFF is also in discussions with various state governments on the possibility of hosting training camps for the men's and women's Under-16 and Under-17 squads.

“The U-16 boys are around three months away from the AFC U-16 Championship (Bahrain 2020),” said Das. “We are also conscious of the fact that the U-17 girls need to start the camp as soon as possible.”

The women's side are gearing up for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, which was postponed from November to next February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

India will play in Group A of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, scheduled for February 17-March 7, with their opponents yet to be determined.

The U-16 men are in Group C with Korea Republic, Australia and Uzbekistan with the AFC U-16 Championship Bahrain 2020 scheduled for November 25 to December 12.

The top four teams will qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2021.

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