The wait for the return of international football continues with the rescheduling of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers by FIFA and AFC. However, the announcement has not dampened the spirits of the members of the Indian men's football team.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu laid out the mood of the rest of the team making it clear that it is a "very good decision keeping the safety of the players in mind."
In a live chat with AIFF TV, Gurpreet mentioned: "I had a feeling about it. With the pandemic, it's not a very good situation -- to have a resumption of international football right now. It is important to have safety in mind," he stated.
"I'm raring to get back on the pitch. I can assure it's the same for the rest of the players too. I am raring to get back. From a player's perspective if you don't get an opportunity to play you get ready for the next one."
Midfielder Anirudh Thapa complemented Gurpreet highlighting "health of players is of paramount importance."
"My first thought after the announcement was that our wait to get back gets longer. But we need to think from a bigger perspective as well. Safety is important. I fully stand by the decision," midfield Anirudh Thapa stated.
Defender Adil Khan feels that although the postponement "unfortunate," it has been taken "keeping in mind the safety of all the players".
"It is unfortunate that the qualifiers got postponed. But I think it's an extremely good decision. It's a bit of a catch-22 situation. We are all sorely missing out on being out there on the pitch, but on the other hand, we also have to take into consideration the safety of everyone involved in organising a match," said Adil.
Adil's fellow defender Pritam Kotal also feels that there is a great risk to the players who have to travel to different venues in order to play.
"We all saw what happened with the Bangladesh players and the players of the Indian hockey team. Many of them tested positive. I think when you have this kind of a situation at hands, it is wise to delay International sporting events that can be held at a later stage. Not only do you lose a lot of players for some while because of the virus, but the safety of these players are also in doubt," said Kotal.
With no football being played, the 27-year-old is now spending a lot of time collecting as much information about fitness as possible.
"I have been reading a lot about fitness. Normally I don't get the time to do so. But now that I have the time I try to gather as much knowledge as possible - knowledge that will, later on, help me be a better player," Kotal informed.
The fans may be away from the stands for now, but Adil urged them to use social media to keep showing their love for the Blue Tigers.
"This is a time when we need each other even more. I would urge all the fans to keep supporting us, and show us your love on social media," urged Adil.
Kotal also joined in with Adil, to urge all the fans to hang in there and stay patient and strong.
"It's a tough situation for all, but we must stay strong and see out the storm. Football isn't going anywhere. It's always been here, and it will still be here even after the Covid-19 pandemic is over. We just need to be patient, be strong, and fight the disease the best way we can," he uttered.