September 27, 2022

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Focused completely on AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifier: Suresh Singh

Doha: India football team midfielder Suresh Singh said on Sunday that the squad was focused completely on qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 during their campaign here where they will play three matches, beginning June 3.

The Sunil Chhetri-captained side will play Qatar (June 3), Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15) in the combined qualifying tournament for the World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

“These are extremely significant matches and tough at the same time. Our aim is to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup in 2023. Owing to the pandemic, we are making up for lost time in the camp (at Doha),” said the 20-year-old from Manipur.

“The positive part stays that we have a full-strength team at our disposal. The mindset in the squad is extremely positive. As a newcomer, I am hearing stories about how we held Asian champions Qatar in their own den the last time here (September 2019 during the World Cup 2022 Qualifiers).

“That motivates me and everyone else, but at the same time, we understand that all of that is past. On June 3 when the two teams meet again, it will be a new start. So you cannot rest on past laurels. In fact, the last time India played against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, all were drawn matches,” said Suresh, who came into prominence during the FIFA U-17 World Cup held in India in 2017.

On whether he was expecting a call-up into the Igor Stimac-coached side for the Doha matches, Suresh said: “It was never in my hand. I kept on focusing on myself, and my play. My logic is simple — if I am not called then I need to understand that either I am not ready, or good enough.

“Being in Bengaluru FC helped a lot simply because I regularly trained with five national team players. That helped me grow in confidence,” said Suresh, who has been with Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC since 2019.”

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