India national football team head coach, Igor Stimac reiterated on Monday that the Blue Tigers international friendly against Belarus next week is on "as of now" though the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is in constant touch with FIFA about "possible sanctions" against the European country which has supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The world governing body, FIFA has currently suspended Russia from taking part in international competitions, though no measures regarding Belarus have been announced as yet. AIFF for their part revealed that India was trying to avoid playing against Belarus on March 26 in Manama, Bahrain amid a global sporting boycott of Russia and Belarus.
"It is regular. We are going to Bahrain to face them (Bahrain). Bahrain is hosting these games. So, as of now the game is on. We are in daily touch with the FIFA about everything, what is going on in Ukraine and about possible sanctions (on Belarus) but as far as we are concerned, the game is on," Stimac said during a virtual press conference.
India are scheduled to play Bahrain on March 23 before taking on Belarus match three days later, with the two friendlies part of their preparation for the Asian Cup final-round qualifiers to be held in Kolkata in June.
"We are favourites in the group, we are hosting the group and there is nothing we should complain about. But we should earn it on the pitch. The other three teams will also fight for qualification, we cannot take anyone easy. We should not look at the rankings of the teams. We should earn it on the pitch and that is how we are going to prepare," he added.
India have been drawn in Group D along with Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia, with the games scheduled to take place between June 8 to 14 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.