The Blue Tigers had a dream start and will be aiming to extend their lead in Group A in their fixture against the hosts
After a gap of eight years, a team qualifies for the continental showpiece. Treated as pushovers, it wins 4-1 in its first game against a formidable opponent. The Indian national team could not have asked for a better start to the AFC Asian Cup 2019, defeating Thailand 1-4, inspired by the evergreen Sunil Chhetri at the top of the attack. The #11 was ably helped by some astute management by his manager Stephen Constantine and young, fast Indian players who displayed some brilliant attacking football in the second half but a “well begun is half the job done and the Blue Tigers move on to more difficult pastures hereon”.
The hosts started their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Bahrain in a well-competed encounter. The UAE, inarguably a better side than Thailand, stands at 79 in the FIFA rankings and under Alberto Zaccheroni, have played a defensively resolute game time and again. The Whites know how to eke out a result and have played West Asian nations regularly. In November last year, they held South American side Bolivia to a goalless draw, highlighting their strong preparations for the Asian Cup. The team defeated and were defeated 2-0 by Yemen and Kuwait respectively, prior to the tournament.
If we talk about stats between these two nations – The Blue Tigers have failed to win against the Emiratis in their last five attempts.
If we talk about UAE, they came into the tournament as the group favorites but Bahrain’s outing against them gives India hope of even bagging all the three points and sealing the top spot in Group A but in their last 18 encounters under coach Alberto Zaccheroni, UAE has been victorious only five times. They have drawn seven matches and lost six of them under the coach, who helped Japan to the Asian Cup title in 2011. It’s not just by the recent form that India has a slight edge over their rivals. UAE is also missing their key player Omar Abdulrahman due to an ACL injury.
On the other India have a great chance to make their presence in the knockout stages. Currently at the top and Thailand on 2nd spot , India need just one clean-sheet in two matches to go through group stages.
The game ⚽️ is played on the pitch, not on paper ❌📄: @StephenConstan
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) January 9, 2019