Indian men's football team defenders Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose believe playing against Cambodia in the AFC Cup qualifiers in a packed Salt Lake Stadium will be a "big boost" for the Blue Tigers. The Indian football team takes the field in its AFC Asian Cup final qualifying round matches at the Salt Lake Stadium from June 8.

Kotal and Bose who are both native to Kolkata are fully aware of the passion that the people from the city have for the sport.

“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 told the AIFF Media team in an interview.

As the Indian team will play on home soil in front of fans after a long gap, Kotal looked forward to enjoying the home advantage during the host's Group-D matches against Cambodia (June 8), Afghanistan (June 11), and Hong Kong (June 14)

“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 own fans for a long time due to Covid-19. 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,” said Kotal during an interview to the AIFF Media team.

“It’s absolutely crucial for us as a nation to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup, and all of us in the team are completely focused on that. We will try our best and hopefully will make it to the tournament properly. We need to take it match by match, and we must do well in all the three games ahead of us,” the defender further added.

On the other hand, the 26-year-old defender Bose recalled the last edition of the Asian Cup in 2019, when the Blue Tigers played in front of packed stands in the UAE.

“It was an amazing feeling in the UAE. So many Indian fans had come to the ground there, it was great. We tried our best back then, but we could not make it to the knockout rounds. Of course, we would love to go one better in the next edition -- but first, we need to qualify – and for that, we need to do well in these three upcoming matches,” Subhasish said.