October 7, 2023, will be a historic day for Indian futsal. At 7.30 pm, the Indian National team will begin their campaign in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers with a match against hosts Tajikistan in the iconic city of Dushanbe. This is the first time India will play a competitive match in futsal.
Speaking on the development, All India Football Federation President Kalyan Chaubey said, “India’s participation in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Qualifiers is truly a momentous occasion. It is yet another example of how the AIFF under the present leadership, has become an organisation, that believes in all-round development. In football, India are making rapid progress in Asia. We will catch up in futsal too very soon and will emerge a major force.”
AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran said, “Futsal is a popular sport across the world and it is also gaining popularity in India. Like in football, the AIFF is also trying to develop futsal and beach football and make them truly competitive in India. Sending the National futsal team to the Asian Cup Qualifiers is not all about playing a tournament. There is a bigger picture involved in it and it will have a far-reaching effect.”
Both the President and the Secretary General congratulated the Indian team for their maiden appearance in the Asian Cup and conveyed their best wishes in the opening encounter against Tajikistan.
India are drawn alongside Tajikistan, Myanmar and Palestine in Group E. A total of 31 teams are divided into eight groups — seven comprising four teams each and one containing three.
Each group is being played at a centralised venue in a single round-robin format, with the eight group winners and seven best second-placed teams among all groups qualifying for the final rounds. These 15 teams will join hosts Thailand in the final round to be played from April 17 to 28, 2024.
The Indian National Team, coached by Joshuah Stan Vaz, had a training session in Dushanbe in the evening. Later, Vaz said, “We have trained first in Chandigarh, and then in Amritsar, and now we are ready to play in our first-ever official futsal tournament. It’s a special moment for us all. We want to put in a good performance to ultimately help futsal grow into a bigger sport in India.
“We have been preparing for our opponents. We’ve watched videos of Tajikistan and Myanmar, and they are both good and experienced teams that have been playing well in recent times. I believe Palestine are more at our level, as they have not played as much, and not many videos of them playing are available. But regardless of the opponents, we will look to put our best foot forward and do well in the qualifiers,” Vaz said.
In August, the Indian National Futsal Team played friendly matches against Bahrain and the coach felt the tour of Bahrain was extremely beneficial for the team. India’s match against hosts Tajikistan in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Qualifiers will be streamed live on the Football TV Tajikistan YouTube Channel.
October 7: Tajikistan vs India (19.00 IST)
October 9: India vs Myanmar (16.00 IST)
October 11: Palestine vs India (16.00 IST)