India waits for clearance from Qatar to start World Cup, Asian Cup campaign

In a decision taken early in March, the AFC slotted all the remaining matches of Group E qualifiers in Qatar owing to the pandemic.

AIFF is awaiting for an approval for the Indian team to train in a foreign country ahead of 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers.

The Indian national team is waiting for a clearance from host Qatar before it could travel to play the remainder of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

In a decision taken early in March, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) slotted all the remaining matches of Group E qualifiers at a centralised venue in Qatar owing to the pandemic. India was looking to travel to the venue early and start its preparations which seems unlikely now.

"We hope to get the clearance from the host (Qatar) in a couple of days. The process will start thereafter," said an AIFF source. With the second wave of the pandemic currently putting a siege on India, it is assumed that the permission is delayed because of the misgivings arising out of it.

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India is scheduled to play its remaining three matches against Qatar (June 3), Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15). The Indian team played its last group match in November 2019 (losing 1-0 against Oman). It was supposed to take on Qatar at Bhubaneswar in October 2020 but the pandemic forced a postponement of the fixtures.

After the conclusion of the Indian Super League 2020-21 season, the Indian team went to the UAE to train there for a brief period before playing two friendlies against Oman (1-1) and the home side (6-0).

India is currently placed fourth in Group E with three points from five games. Qatar leads the table with 13 points while Oman is a point behind it in the second spot. Though virtually out of contention for a World Cup berth, India still has a chance to make it to the Asian Cup which will be held in China in 2023.

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