KOLKATA: A huge number of spectators are expected to watch India take on Bangladesh in a Group E Asian Qualifiers match for the FIFA World Cup tie at the Salt Lake Stadium (also known as Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan) here on Tuesday as all the tickets have been sold out days ahead of the clash.
The city, known for its football madness, is set to host the national team for the first time since 2011 when they beat Malaysia 3-2 in a friendly.
The colossal has a capacity of 65,000 and, according to ticket sales on the eve of the match, is expected to be packed to the rafters with all tickets sold out days in advance.
"The demand for tickets have been massive since the day India held Qatar to a goalless draw. Now we are struggling to meet demands and even our commitments," an All India Football Federation (AIFF) source told IANS.
India held Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw on September 10 in Doha and narrowly lost to Oman 1-2 in their campaign opener prior to that. The Igor Stimac-coached side, ranked 104 in the world, are strong favourites to beat neighbours Bangladesh who are 83 rungs below them.
"We want to see Sunil Chhetri in action. It's been a while since India played in Kolkata. They are doing well and we want to cheer them," said a fan outside the stadium complex.
Stimac, who took over the reins from Stephen Constantine in May, said at the pre-match press conference that he is looking forward to his boys playing in front of a packed stadium and also expecting Bangladesh supporters to come and celebrate the game in the City of Joy.
"I was told that in Kolkata you will get Bangladesh supporters also. I am happy that they will come to the ground. Football is about joy and everyone should enjoy the game tomorrow," said the Croatian.
"We know that we have somehow woken up everyone with our recent performances. We have shown that on our day we can play against anyone. In the first two games we were not favourites. By now the whole pressure is on us. We worked very hard to ensure everyone enjoys the game we are trying implement and we hope the efforts give us result. We have to win this game so that we have a chance to keep dreaming," he added.
Bangladesh's English coach Jamie Day said it would be an experience of a lifetime for his players to play in front of such a huge crowd.
"If I were a player I would have looked forward to play in front of such a crowd. I told my players you might not get a chance to play again in front of such a crowd so make the most of it. I want them to be confident and play their natural game."
India and Bangladesh last played a qualifier here for the Mexico World Cup in 1985. In the game against India, Bangladesh went ahead through a strike from Ashish Bhadra in the 15th minute before Bikash Panji, who also struck against Bangladesh in Dhaka, equalised in the 36th minute.
India are fourth in the five-team group after two games while Bangladesh are placed last after facing defeats against Afghanistan and Qatar. Besides the famous Qatar draw, India lost to Oman 1-2 in Guwahati in their campaign opener.