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Indian football team to undergo 15-day camp from August 15 ahead of two international friendlies

New Delhi, Aug 4: The All India Football Federation will organise a 15-day camp for the senior men's national team starting August 15 in preparation for two international games the country is likely to play during the August 30-September 7 FIFA window.

Conversations are ongoing with a few federations and a final confirmation will be made in the coming days, the AIFF said on Wednesday. The federation has laid down the calendar for the remainder of 2021.

Amid the impact of COVID-19 on sports globally, international football has seen a hold up forcing AIFF to revisit the calendar faced with uncertainties, postponements, and call-offs.

The calendar begins with Sunil Chhetri's Bengaluru FC playing its (pending) AFC Cup qualifier against Club Eagles (Maldives) on August 15. This will be followed by the league stage draw featuring ATK Mohun Bagan from 18-24 August.

Fans could be in for a double treat if BFC manages to cross the first hurdle. These matches will be telecast live from the Maldives to Indian homes. Plans are also afoot to ensure the smooth integration of the players from BFC and ATK MB returning from the Maldives to the Indian camp.

The clubs are expected to commence their pre-season by the first week of September and will see all India international players available. A three-week window, till the end of September, will ensure club coaches put in motion their pre-season training plans in full gear.

The start of October will see AIFF reconvening the national camp for India's participation in the (twice postponed) biennial international men's football event, the SAFF Championship featuring five member nations. The tournament will be played till October 15, with India playing four games in a round-robin format.

Immediately after the SAFF championship, the Blue Tigers will start their preparation camp for its Group E engagement in AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers. While the Indian international players will return to their respective clubs from the SAFF Championship, the U-23 players will be joining the preparatory camp.

There is also an additional FIFA window from January 24 to February 1, 2022. India will start the third round of AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers in February 2022, and will play six qualifiers till September 2022. Further, in the event of ATK Mohun Bagan or Bengaluru FC progressing from the AFC Cup group stage, they are likely to be in the action as early as September 2021 in the inter-zonal semifinal.

The inter-zonal finals are scheduled in October 2021 with the AFC Cup Final scheduled in early November 2021.

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Story first published: Wednesday, August 4, 2021, 21:46 [IST]
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