Arnab Mondal feels qualifying for AFC Asian Cup vital for future of Indian football
India last qualified for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 27 years back in 2011.
What’s the story?
East Bengal defender Arnab Mondal sounds confident ahead of India’s qualifying campaign for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 which starts later this month. However, he also stresses that qualifying for the tournament will be vitally important for the country’s footballing scene.
Speaking to PTI during the conditioning camp which has been organised at Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai, Mondal quipped, “If we perform well (in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers), it will be good for the future players and also for us in the team. It will be vital for us. This is the reason we practised for so may year and do hard work. I have belief in the team that we will be able to qualify via the qualifiers.”
In case you didn’t know...
India last qualified for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 27 years back in 2011 after they triumphed in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. However, the Men in Blue found themselves at the end of some major thrashings as they lost all three of their group games whilst conceding 13 goals in the process.
The 2019 edition of the tournament is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates with 24 teams of which 12 have already qualified for the event. The group stages, which represents the third round of the qualification campaign will see 24 teams divided into six groups of four teams each jostling for the final 12 spots in the tournament.
India have been pitted in Group A of the qualification group alongside Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Macau.
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The heart of the matter
Arnab Mondal has had an indifferent season so far. After injury curtailed his ISL-winning season with Atletico de Kolkata, the Indian international is yet to make his mark in the I-League with the same injury keeping him out for the initial part of the season.
Elaborating on his view, the centre-back felt that a good performance in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers would go a long way to boost the morale of the Indian footballing fraternity. He felt that the coming generation of Indian players will take a lot of heart from their displays and thus the team owns a sense of responsibility heading into the campaign.
Mondal, however, refused to babble on the whether the draw for the qualifiers was favourable for the Indian team. However, he assured that the team will give their 100% and not take anyone lightly.
The Indian team is currently undergoing in a training camp, preparing for their upcoming friendly against Cambodia in Phnom Penh followed by the March 28 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Myanmar in Yangon.
Indian football is certainly on the upswing. The ISL has added the needed glamour to the scene whilst the I-League keeps churning out new talents. The national team has also reached their highest ranking in the last seven years. The country as a whole is also on the cusp of making history with the FIFA U17 World Cup being hosted in Indian in the month October.
If the senior team can now ensure qualification for the AFC Asian Cup, it will surely generate interest n the game like never before and inspire millions to take to the ground with a cleat and a football.