It is not easy to face the continental strong teams Bahrain and UAE but the coach of the Indian national football team, Stephen Constantine, is confident that Sunil Chhetri and his team are not only going to increase the numbers of teams in the upcoming AFC Asian Cup next year. India last participated in the Asian Cup in 2011 under the guidance of Bob Hetton of Ireland. Then India was easily defeated by Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.
National Coach Constantine believes that things will be different this time. India is placed in Group A along with Thailand, host UAE and Bahrain in this tournament of 24 teams. The Asia Cup will take place from January 5 to February 1 next year.
The top two teams from each of the six 6 groups and the four best teams in the third place will make the place in the knockout round.
Constantine said, “I think we have a good chance (to qualify for knockout) but we have to be prepared in both mental and physical form. The first match against Thailand is going to be a good match. We are going to win the Asia Cup, not just to increase the numbers.’
For preparations for the Asian Cup, India is hosting the Inter-Continental Tournament of four countries at Mumbai from June 1. Apart from India, teams from Chinese Taipei, Kenya and New Zealand will also participate in this tournament.
55-year-old Constantine, who has been the coach of the Indian team twice, said, “We need these matches. We will make mistakes, but it is better that we do this now in place of the Asian Cup.’
Indian Fixtures for Asia Cup:
India will play Thailand in Abu Dhabi on January 6 in their first match. The Indian team will play against UAE on January 10 in Abu Dhabi. The team will play their final match against Bahrain in Sharjah on January 14.