The matches of the qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup will be a 'real test' for India: Udanta

NEW DELHI: Winger Udanta Singh says next World Cup Qualifying the matches will be a real test for the Indian soccer team but recent good performances, especially in the Asian Cup , will give players confidence to face the best in the continent.

India will begin its qualifiers for the second round of the 2022 World Cup with a match against Oman on Thursday in Guwahati, before traveling to Doha to play against the Asian champions Qatar on September 10. Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the other two teams in the group (Group E).

Each team will play games at home and away until June of next year. The best team of each of the eight groups and the four best finalists of all groups will advance to the third round.

All matches in the qualifying round will be a real test for us. We will do our best to move on to the next round, Udanta said when asked if India can beat Oman at home.

Every game is crucial for us. A higher or lower range does not matter in the field. It is the performance that will decide the game (against Oman), Lynchpin, 23, told PTI in an interview.

Oman are currently ranked 87th in the world while India are at 103rd. The last time India and Oman played against each other was in December last year in the run-up to the Asian Cup in January and the match ended in a goal-less draw.

Playing in front of the local fans has always been incredible. They are there to support us throughout the game. It gives us hope until the end of the game. We will try to improve our performance since the last campaign and work on our mistakes, said the Manipuri player who made his debut in India in March 2016.

Udanta said the team has learned from their strengths and weaknesses during the Kings Cup in Thailand (in June) and the Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad (in July) and players have been working to improve their performances at the national camp in Goa.

"We all are doing hard work in the ground and gym. All the boys look fit. We are all hoping to do our best on the field. From the Kings Cup and Hero Intercontinental Cup, we got to learn our strengths and weaknesses and now we are working on them accordingly," he said.

The new head coach, Igor Stimac, took over the reins in May and since then he has been trying to change the team's playing style to the possession of football, building from behind and making a smooth transition to the attack.

All children want to play with the ball and the coach wants to build from behind. But it is not easy, so we try again and again. Mistakes will happen but the coach is there to help us with our mistakes. I like whatever works for all of us, said Udanta.

The end Bengaluru FC and the end of India have scored only one goal in the 22 international matches he has played so far and is eager to improve on this front.

All players want to score for their team, especially for the national team. I like it when I score and I want to score more, but I'm not so worried about that while our team wins, he said.

I want to improve in finishing, crossing and decision making in an individual situation.

During the Asian Cup in January, Udanta was denied a goal by the woodwork against the hosts UAE in a group match which costs India dear. Had the woodwork did not come in the way, India would have got the equaliser in the match which the UAE won 2-0.

When asked if it was the most disappointing moment of his career so far, Udanta said: It was a really heartbreaking moment. I would say that luck did not favor us that day. Our performance was really good in that game.

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