Vinit Rai, Lallianzuala Chhangte, confident before the draw in Afghanistan

KOLKATA: The task before the Indian national team is to climb the mountain and cross the desert. Lying in fourth place with only two points from the three qualifying matches for the World Cup they played so far, they will face Afghanistan, in its cold and mountainous terrain in Dushanbe, on Thursday, followed by another in the desert country of Oman, November 19.

But the young Indian squad is not yet ready to put the towel. I don't think it's over yet. I think (the World Cup qualification) is still open, a 22-year-old midfielder Vinit Rai He told TOI.

If we believe in ourselves, everything is possible. These two away games will be really important for us. If we continue to believe in each other as we have done, regardless of the result in the last game (against Bangladesh), if we continue to do the things we have been doing well and following the coach's instructions, we can still do it.

After an absent goalless draw against the Qatari Asian champions, the Blue Tigers stumbled in their home game against Bangladesh, where they were able to accumulate only one point with a late draw. He put the team in the penultimate place in Group E and made the advance to Round 2 seem like a distant reality.

What has improved the level of difficulty is the fact that the international break began late for players who were in club service in the Indian Super League. It did not give them many possibilities for a conditioning camp before the Afghanistan game that will be played on artificial turf and in freezing temperatures.

But players trust the head coach Igor Stimac to prepare them for the obstacle.

Both games are very important to us. They will be like two consecutive final games. And although we don't have enough time to train together, we know how our coach wants us to play and we will do our best to make the Indians proud of us again, said the end Lallianzuala Chhangte .

His belief in Stimac's ability to get the best of them was echoed by northeastern midfielder Rai. The most important thing about the new coach is that we really enjoy the training. Every day there is something to be excited about. The training is strenuous and needs our full concentration, but we also have a lot of fun. That is what I enjoy most. in national camps, Rai added.

The Indian team left for Dashunbe on Tuesday after a solitary training session at Dubai Sports City.