The Indian national team will be welcomed in Croatia to train before their 2022 World Cup qualifiers scheduled in October and November, Goal understands.
In a letter addressed to the President of AIFF (All India Football Federation), Praful Patel, his Croatian counterpart Davor Suker, has expressed the eagerness to assist India to help the Blue Tigers prepare better for the remaining fixtures.
The Croatian Federation would provide hospitality and help organise friendly games, provided the Indian team wishes to hold the preparatory camp in the European nation.
International travel is currently banned due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and if the situation improves, India might exercise the option of conducting the training camp abroad.
Even travelling within India is not feasible given the current Coronavirus situation. Almost all states have made it mandatory for travellers to spend 14 days in isolation, following a journey from another state.
Only in Goa, travellers coming in can take a Covid-19 swab test two days prior to the travel. Else, travellers will have to get tested in Goa for the same. If the test is negative, they will be allowed in. Anyone testing positive for Coronavirus would either have to go back or stay in quarantine in Goa until their test result is declared.
Since the game against Qatar is scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar, the AIFF's preference is to conduct the camp in Odisha. However, it depends on the state regulations and the Covid-19 situation which will play a major role in the team being able to play friendly matches.
It must be noted that football is back on in Croatia and the country has also eased restrictions on foreigners entering the country. As of July 1, 2020, all foreign nationals entering the country are free to do so, if they provide relevant proof.
Croatia has lifted mandatory self-isolation and quarantine restrictions for those entering the country. Instead, individuals are given a pamphlet with recommendations from the Croatian Institute of Public Health that they must follow for 14 days after entering the country.
However, it must be noted that as of now, India imposes mandatory quarantine of 14 days on people travelling to the country from abroad. So, in case the camp is held in Croatia, it remains to be seen and taken into account what the regulations are then on returning to the country.
The Blue Tigers, who are currently ranked 108th in the world and 19th in Asia, last played against Oman in the World Cup qualifiers (1-0 loss for India).
Before the lockdown started in March, national team head coach Igor Stimac had summoned 23 players for a camp that was supposed to start on March 9. He had also called up another 20 players to join on March 16, 2020, after the conclusion of the Indian Super League (ISL) season but the camp had to be eventually cancelled.
There was to be a practice game between the national team and the best performers from the I-League. If any player from the I-League team had managed to impress the Croat, they could have been invited to the camp. However, the match also had to be cancelled.
India are winless and have registered three draws after five rounds of fixtures in Group E. Qatar, who are unbeaten, are leading the group with 13 points and Oman are second with 12. The games remaining for India are against Qatar (H), Bangladesh (A) and Afghanistan (H).
India could resume their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign on October 8 when they take on Qatar.
According to the tentative schedule worked out by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), India will then face Bangladesh on November 12, whereas their last group stage fixture against Afghanistan is likely to be played on November 17.