January 31, 2023

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

Will look to sustain momentum gained against Qatar: Fernandes

Doha,  India football team midfielder Brandon Fernandes said on Saturday that sustaining momentum gained in opening match of combined qualifying tournament for 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup against Qatar would be key when his team takes on Bangladesh on June 7.

India, despite a less-than-ideal preparation for the tournament due to the Covid-19 pandemic, gave a good account of themselves against Asian champions Qatar, conceding just one goal in the June 3 encounter.

While India are out of contention for next year’s World Cup, they are bidding to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.

“We are moving as a team and we need to back each other. We are aware that we have specific roles in the team. The next match is extremely crucial as we need to sustain the momentum gained in the first match. The first match is history,” said Fernandes.

Defender Subhashish Bose pointed out that India (FIFA ranking 105) would need to be on their guard despite Bangladesh being ranked way below at 184.

“Rankings don’t matter once you take field. We are aware of the quality of the Bangladesh team. They are a side that plays a lot of counter-attacking football, and that is very dangerous. India versus Bangladesh have always been exciting and close matches. We have huge respect for Bangladesh,” said Bose.

Bangladesh had sprung a surprise on 150th ranked Afghanistan — the third team in the tournament — coming from behind to hold them to a 1-1 draw.

Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan, who has played for Mohammedan Sporting in I-League, feels it’s “going to be an intense match” when the two teams take field on June 7.

“The confidence in our team is good at the moment. We had our chances to win against Afghanistan. We will take that confidence into the India game,” said Jamal.

Bangladesh coach Jamie Day said, “India are a very good team. They are a much higher-ranked team than us who should be beating the likes of Bangladesh. The difference in ranking and quality is huge.

“You look at India’s last match against Qatar — with 10-men they fought like warriors and lost 0-1. It depicts the quality in their side. We are looking forward to the game. We are aware that we need to play to our maximum, and hope India have an off-day,” added Day.

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