India might not play a friendly match before the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifier starts on September 5, Goal has learnt.
The Blue Tigers are slated to take on Oman in the first match of their campaign at home. The qualifiers is set to be the first real test for newly appointed coach Igor Stimac who has overseen the team in two friendly tournaments - The King's Cup and Intercontinental Cup - already.
There were initially plans to play a friendly match against a West Asian nation before the qualifiers started. However, the team management and the Indian FA have now taken a decision not to do so in order to retain a surprise element against one of the stronger teams in India's group.
India are pitted against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in addition to Oman in Group E.
Coach Stimac has rotated his personnel heavily and experimented with tactics in the five games he has overseen so far. India performed well in the King's Cup, losing to a strong Curacao side before beating the hosts Thailand to clinch the third spot.
Though the team did suffer losses to Tajikistan and DPR Korea in the Intercontinental Cup, India finished well by holding a strong Syria side to a 1-1 draw.
Stimac is expected to change his starting XI based on what he has seen from the players so far in these five games and is expected to use a training camp to condition his players and hone the tactics rather than play a friendly match.
India are expected to hold the preparatory camp in Goa.