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India meet Bahrain in international futsal debut

Led by head coach Joshuah Vaz, India will take on hosts Bahrain in two friendly matches on August 12 and 14.

NEW DELHI:

August 12, 2023, is set to be a historic date for Indian futsal as the national men’s team will play their first-ever international match — a friendly against Bahrain at the Khalifa Sports City Hall in Bahrain at 8:30 pm IST.

The Indian squad consisting of 14 players, who have been selected based on their performances in the Futsal Club Championship held earlier this year, landed in the Middle Eastern island nation on Thursday evening. Led by head coach Joshuah Vaz, India will take on hosts Bahrain in two friendly matches on August 12 and 14.

The matches are part of India’s preparations for their debut in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers, which will take place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan from October 7-11. India have been clubbed with Myanmar, Palestine and hosts Tajikistan in Group E.

Vaz and his boys are raring to go and create history on Saturday. “My first thoughts are those of excitement and hunger to go out there and represent our great nation in its first-ever futsal match. I’m sure my coaching staff and the boys are well prepared and have the same hunger for the match against Bahrain tomorrow,” he said on Friday.

Bahrain are a mature side in the world of futsal, having first played in the AFC Futsal Championship in 2002. They also qualified for the previous two AFC Futsal Asian Cups in 2018 and 2022.

“Since it’s our first international match, there will be a few butterflies in the stomach. From my side, I’m going to make sure that our boys go out there and enjoy themselves, and the result will follow,” Vaz said.

The 33-year-old coach also had a message for the Indian fans in Bahrain. “I would like to thank all the fans who came to welcome us at the Bahrain International Airport. I look forward to seeing all of you in big numbers to back the boys in blue tomorrow,” he said. (IANS)

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