Bad news coming form football as Captain Sunil Chhetri ruled out of match against Qatar in the Group E fixture of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday due to Fever.
Igor Stimac has been forced to alter his plans after discovering that captain Sunil Chhetri and two other players will be unavailable for theWorld Cup qualifier against Qatar at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday.
Chhetri, 35, scored the lone Indian goal against Oman in the previous fixture in Guwahati last Thursday.
Ranked 62nd in the world, Qatar will start Tuesday’s Group E match against 103-ranked India as overwhelming favourites.
They will look to claim their second consecutive win after crushing Afghanistan 6-0 in their opening match on September 5 here.
The Blue Tigers simply dominated Oman in their last match and win there could have given them some serious boost, but the last 10-minute debacle has done more bad than food.
With their best ever chance to open a World Cup campaign all but lost, India would hope against hope when they visit Qatar.
The former Croatia coach was expected to show faith in the same team, but Chhetri hasn’t trained for the last three days and two others are “completely exhausted.”
"Sunil with high fever for the last three days, so he is really doubtful. Then there are two or three players who are exhausted. We will have to take tough decisions". Stimac said.
"Obviously, we have to change 4-5 players. We'll see how everyone is feeling. There is no reason to fear and we shall look to score goals and play good football."
"The previous match is now history and everyone is now focusing on the match against Qatar. We have to keep our chins up. We started our preparations the very next day and are now looking forward to starting training here."
Forward Ashique Kuruniyan, who returned to the national team lineup for the first time since January, said, "We have to accept what happened against Oman and learn from it.
Qatar are a strong team undoubtedly but we will push them as hard as we can and play to the best of our abilities.
The Blue Tigers will have to work hard defensively against Qatar. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's workload will have to be reduced by the back-four. The defenders should be vigilant not to lose their defensive shape, especially in the dying minutes.
The side, including the midfielders, committed the mistake of withdrawing deep into their own half. If the team works as a unit with minimal mistakes, goals would not be far for Blue boys.
Only 8% tickets available for Indian fans
Qatar have not lost to an Asian side in 2019, held Paraguay and stretched the likes of Brazil and Argentina to the limit this year. Against India, the hosts will be overwhelming favourites to repeat what they did to Afghanistan in the opener (6-0).
Qatar has quite a sizeable Indian population. Not everyone, though, will be on hand to cheer India at the stadium.
With Qatar FA putting 12,940 tickets on sale, only eight percent were allotted for Indian supporters. The 1,000-odd tickets were snapped up within an hour, leaving the away fans craving for more.
The India vs Qatar FIFA World Cup Qualifier match will be played at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. FIFA World Cup Qualifier match will start at 10 PM IST and will be telecast on the Star Sports Network and online streamed on Hot star.