India men’s national team players, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose believe that playing the 2023 AFC Asian Cup final round qualifiers at the Salt Lake Stadium will be a “big boost” as the fans from the state of Bengal are “great”.
India have been drawn in Group D alongside Cambodia, Hong Kong and Afghanistan in the qualifiers with the Blue Tigers scheduled to open their campaign against Cambodia on Wednesday, June 8.
Igor Stimac’s side last played at the Salt Lake Stadium in 2019, and the players believe that playing in Kolkata ensures that they can feel the home advantage.
“Kolkata is the mecca of Indian football. The fans here are great. So many clubs have dedicated fans here, and the great thing is that they all come together to cheer for India when we play as a nation in this city. I hope there is a lot of noise from the stands. That will boost all of us. From our end, we need to pay them back with a qualification for the AFC Asian Cup,” Bose said in a press conference.
“It’s a big advantage for us to play in front of our fans. Especially because we have not been able to play in front of our fans for a long time due to COVID. So, I would like to encourage all the fans to come ahead and support us in these three games. We will try to give our best – together we can,” Kotal added.
It was recently revealed that tickets for the upcoming game against Cambodia was sold out within 10 minutes, with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) having to issue more tickets for fans ahead of the game.