Indian national football team head coach Igor Stimac addressed the areas on which they are working ahead of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers which will begin next week. India recently lost three friendly matches against - Bahrain, Belarus and Jordan, which might not be the perfect setting going into the all-important matches, however, they are set to face weaker opponents, which raises hopes.

The Indian football team is currently in Kolkata, for the last lap of preparations ahead of the qualifiers. India have been pitted alongside Cambodia, Afghanistan and Hong Kong in the Group D of the qualifiers, with the group winners set to earn a berth for the continental event.

“It’s the final week and there are a few things we are working on -- putting in the final touches. We are working on set-pieces and on certain aspects of our attack and defence. Obviously, there are different aspects to each of these. There are certain issues, especially with niggling injuries to some players, but we are dealing with them as best we can,” said Igor Stimac, as reported by

The Blue Tigers would be up against Cambodia in their campaign opener on June 8, followed by the Afghanistan match, three days later. Igor Stimac’s boys will face-off with Hong Kong in their last group stage match on June 14. All the matches will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata.

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The Croat manager is wary of the Afghanistan side out of their three opponents, considering quite a few of their members ply their trade in foreign leagues. However, India are favourites to top the group. On the other hand, five 2nd best-placed teams across all groups will also make the cut for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

“Afghanistan are the one that comes first to mind. More so because physically, they are much stronger. They have so many players from foreign leagues that have well-organised football throughout the year. While these players are playing in quality leagues abroad, we are trying to build that same here, which will take time. That’s why I consider them as one of the major opponents,” added the head coach.