The AFC Asian Cup Final Round qualifiers are just around the corner, and the confirmation that there will be no dearth of tickets for the three matchdays on June 8, 11, and 14, is music to the ears of the Indian Football community.
The two local boys in the Indian men’s football team, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose, are absolutely buzzing at the fact that the Blue Tigers will once again be playing in front of the passionate fans at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.
“Kolkata is the Mecca of Indian Football. The fans here are great. So many clubs have dedicated fans here, and the great thing is that they all come together to cheer for India when we play as a nation in this city,” said Subhasish. “I hope there is a lot of noise from the stands. That will boost all of us. From our end, we need to pay them back with a qualification for the AFC Asian Cup.”
The last time the Blue Tigers played in front of their own faithful was in 2019, and Pritam Kotal feels that the team can once again feel the home advantage.
“It’s a big advantage for us to play in front of our fans. Especially because we have not been able to play in front of our own fans for a long time due to COVID. So, I would like to encourage all the fans to come ahead and support us in these three games. We will try to give our best – together we can,” said Kotal.
While the anticipation for the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers multiplies each day, both the Blue Tigers defenders are focused on the crucial job ahead, as they prepare to face Cambodia (June 8), Afghanistan (June 11), and Hong Kong (June 14).
“It’s absolutely crucial for us as a nation to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup, and all of us in the team are completely focused on that. We will try our best and hopefully will make it to the tournament proper. We need to take it match by match, and we must do well in all the three games ahead of us,” quipped Kotal.
“All the teams are quite capable of defeating each other in this group, and it will be a very tight contest. We need to make sure that we will do all the positive things both on and off the ground, and come out with the results,” he added.
Subhasish Bose recalled the last edition of the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, when the Blue Tigers had played in front of packed stands in the UAE.
“It was an amazing feeling in the UAE. So many Indian fans had come to the ground there, it was great. We tried our best back then, but we could not make it to the knockout rounds. Of course, we would love to go one better in the next edition — but first, we need to qualify – and for that, we need to do well in these three upcoming matches,” Bose asserted.