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Guwahati might get to host WC Qualifiers opener
Guwahati is likely to host India’s first qualifying match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup against Oman on September 5 after the Assam Football Association (AFA) expressed interest considering the popularity of the sport in the region.
The Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Sarusajai, on the outskirts of the state capital, could get to host the game. “We have got in touch with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), requesting it to give us one of the WC qualifying matches and it has considered it. There is a chance we might get the opening fixture,” said AFA general secretary Hemen Brahma.
The AFA seems to have got a ‘positive’ feedback from the apex body. “The AIFF has received a proposal from Assam, but nothing has been finalised yet,” stated a source. Officials from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will inspect the venues before arriving at a decision.
The Indian football team was last week handed a relatively easy draw for the 2022 WC second round Asian qualifiers. It was clubbed with Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Group E. The 40 Asian countries were divided into eight groups of five teams each in the draw held at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Teams in each group will play home-and-away round-robin matches starting from September 5. Besides Guwahati, the Mumbai Football Arena and the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata have emerged as the likely venues to host India’s home matches. India endured a disastrous WC qualifying campaign for the 2018 edition, which included a loss to Guam.