India are set to play their rest of the World Cup qualifying matches at a centralised venue in either Oman or Qatar, Goal has learnt. Whereas, the national camp will be held in UAE (United Arab Emirates) before they travel to Oman or Qatar.
All participating teams of the group have accepted the proposal of a centralised venue, barring Bangladesh who are keen to get home advantage given all their remaining matches were supposed to be at home. Although it is yet to be decided whether it will be held in Oman or Qatar, the scales are tilted towards the Asian champions.
Most qualifying groups are trying to complete the games at centralised venues.
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It must be noted that before entering Qatar, Indian players and staff will need to get a negative Covid-19 certificate. However, on arrival in Qatar, the contingent will have to undergo another Covid-19 test and be in quarantine till the result is declared negative, which usually happens within 24 hours.
If the matches are in Oman, the contingent needs to take Covid-19 tests on arrival and undergo a seven-day mandatory quarantine before taking another Covid test. If the results are negative, they will be allowed to leave the quarantine.
Previously in November, in an online meeting of AFC's Competitions Committee, chaired by Tran Quoc Tuan, it was decided that the seventh and eighth matchdays of the qualifiers will be conducted in March 2021. The ninth and tenth matchdays will be held in June 2021.
It was agreed that all the second round Asian Qualifiers should be completed by June 15, 2021.
Initially, AFC had chalked out a schedule to hold the remaining matches in October and November but they had to postpone due to the difficulties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
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. India 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.
India lost narrowly to Oman at home before holding Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw. The inspiring result was followed by two more draws and a loss against Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Oman respectively.
Eight group winners and four best runners-up will progress to the continent's 12-team final qualifying stage for the 2022 World Cup.