The Indian men’s national football team will return to action in March to play two friendlies against Oman & UAE (United Arab Emirates), the All India Football Federation (AIFF) confirmed on Tuesday.
The Blue Tigers will lock horns against Oman in the first match on March 25 while the second match against UAE will take place on March 29. Both the matches will be played in Dubai.
The national team will convene on March 15 for a preparatory camp under the guidance of head coach Igor Stimac in the same location. Hence, the players called up for the national team will leave immediately for UAE after the Indian Super League (ISL) final on March 13.
The camp and friendlies will be crucial for India coach Igor Stimac to assess his squad ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in June.
Incidentally, Oman will also be camping in Dubai from March 11 to 25 under their head coach Branko Ivankovic. However, the Oman squad will assemble in Muscat on March 8 to regroup before travelling to UAE.
Oman's top tier league will come to a halt on March 6 so that the players can join the national camp.
Meanwhile, UAE's top tier league will conclude on March 16 and the players will join coach Bert van Marwijk following the final matchday.
It was in November 2019 that India last played an international match when they faced Afghanistan (in Tajikistan) and Oman (in Muscat).
India are currently placed fourth in Group E with three points from five matches. Qatar top the table with 13 points while Oman are hot on their heels with 12.
Stimac's men are virtually out of contention for the top two spots but a third-place finish is well within the reach of the Blue Tigers. That will book them a direct berth in the third round for the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers.