Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac on Wednesday said the national team has been drawn into a very tough group, referring to Asian Champions Qatar.
Apart from Qatar, Group E includes Oman, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh in the preliminary draw of the Asian qualifiers, which took place at the AFC Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
The draw was also for the preliminary joint Qualification Round 2 for the AFC Asian Cup, China 2023.
Labelling the draw as "a very tough challenge", Stimac added, "It will be an enormous challenge for your young team. We have been drawn into a very tough group."
The head coach said that they need to respect every opposition. Stimac further added that anyone can beat anyone, referring to the finalists of the Intercontinental Cup.
"We need to respect everyone -- not only just teams from Pot 1, and Pot 2, but even teams from Pot 3, and Pot 4 too. The Intercontinental Cup showed to all how strange a game football us. The two teams which are playing the final (Tajikistan, and DPR Korea) are the lowest FIFA ranked teams in the tournament. That shows that everyone can beat everyone," Stimac said.
"I will teach the team to respect the opposition, but when we step on to the pitch, we will do everything to win. That is the way I am going to prepare my team. We are just at the beginning of our journey. I hope that it will be a long one," he added
Meanwhile, AFC General Secretary, Dato Windsor John said the focus of the world is clearly on Asia.
"The day marks the beginning of an exciting journey for Asia's top 40 teams. The top 12 teams qualify automatically for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023, and they will move closer to qualification for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. It's fitting that Asia kicked-off this qualification as we will host World Cup finals for only the second time," John said.
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