For the first time in three years, India will host the Intercontinental Cup, with the Blue Tigers battling for supremacy against the trio of Lebanon, Vanuatu & Mongolia.
At the tournament, starting from June 9th till June 18th, the Blue Tigers will be aided with the benefit of a home ground such as Kalinga Stadium, which has also hosted the Indian Super League, and FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Ahead of the tournament, India captain Sunil Chhetri was all praise for Bhubaneswar and the facilities in the state capital.
“I’ve come here before. This is my third trip here, and the previous time I was here, I was competing against Odisha FC. Having the newly inaugurated football centers so close to the stadium is a fantastic development. I feel that everyone who is interested in playing football should visit these facilities regularly,” Chhetri said.
Further elaborating on his experience at the Bhubaneshwar grounds, the 38-year-old added, “We have enjoyed the training sessions. It’s been ten days of training and the facilities are excellent, and the kindness extends from the training field to where we reside. Even the smallest details, such as the ice baths, have been meticulously handled. Our competition starts in four days, and we can’t wait for our hard work to be rewarded.”
Feeling confident about their upcoming season and considering himself fortunate to have Kalinga Stadium as their home ground, Indian defender Sandeep Jhingan said, “I have travelled to Europe, and I have competed at many international venues where football has been a religion, but I am completely amazed at how Bhubaneshwar has managed to outdo them with their top-notch facilities. We have been training here every day, and in this setting, I feel every sport will have a place to call home.”
Last week, Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik inaugurated three state of the art football centers in Bhubaneswar. Speaking on the upcoming FIFA centers at Bhubaneshwar, Jhingan said, “I am from Chandigarh and back home we didn’t have a turf to practice on but with god’s grace and coach’s support I was able to push myself further. The benefit of having a home ground in a place like Bhubaneshwar will undoubtedly inspire many young dreams to be fulfilled, and I wish them all the best in their endeavors.”
The tenacious Indian Winger, Nandhakumar Sekhar, who has spent over five years at Odisha FC, also spoke on his connection and fondness for the venue. “I had a good journey with Odisha FC, and I am very happy to see that dream grow. Today with me being a part of the National Football team I have been able to visit my former home ground again and I was completely amazed at how the government has been able to support the dreams of aspiring footballers, through the football centers. I really love how people support football here, sports are now embedded into the fabric of the city.” he said.
Chhetri wishes to see a healthy support for the national team in Bhubaneswar.
“I hope to see you at the stadium, those who are about to travel; you have always been our supporters. If you are in Odisha, we would like to invite you to the stadium. I can’t remember the last time the national team played in Odisha. This is a wonderful opportunity that we as players are very excited about; if you can make it, it will be fantastic,” he added.
- IND vs IRE, 3rd T20I live updates: India eyes clean sweep against Ireland
- Praggnanandhaa vs Carlsen Final LIVE Updates, Round 2 Chess World Cup 2023: Pragg vs Magnus end in draw as final heads to tiebreaks; Caruana in control vs Abasov
- Indian sports news wrap, August 23
- World Athletics Championships 2023, Day 5 LIVE updates: Jeswin Aldrin becomes first Indian to qualify for 2023 World C’ship finals, M Sreeshankar misses out; latest results
- FIDE World Cup Final 2023: Praggnanandhaa draws with Carlsen in second game, enforces tiebreaks