100 days to go to 2019 AFC Asian Cup

The Indian football team will be participating in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in seven years and has been put in Group A alongside host UAE, Thailand and Bahrain.

Supporters of Indian football team celebrate the team's victory over Kyrgyz Republic in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifying match at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  K. Murali Kumar

It's time to get excited - we are only 100 days away from Asia's biggest football tournament, the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which is to be held at the United Asrab Emirates between January 5 to February 1.

The Indian football team will be participating at the tournament for the first time in seven years and has been clubbed alongside host UAE, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A.

In 2011, India was eliminated in the group stage after suffering heavy defeats to Australia, Bahrain and Korea Republic. India didn't qualify for the 2015 edition, but the team has been on an upswing since.

In preparation to the Asia Cup, the Indian team will play two international friendlies in October and November. The team will travel to China to play the side on October 13, while the opponent for the November friendly is yet to be announced - Saudi Arabia or Syria are the likely options.


“[Back then] we had never been on such a big stage and it didn’t help to face Australia, Korea and Bahrain; we gave our best but I think we were a bit overwhelmed,” Indian captain Sunil Chhetri told the-afc.com earlier this month.

“If we compare ourselves with the other Asian countries then we fall short, but if we compare with what we were 15 years back then I think we have made huge strides.

“But because we’re chasing the bigger teams, we can’t be happy or satisfied, we have to keep our heads down and keep improving,” he added.

The fifth edition of the Indian Super League will have three breaks this season to accommodate India's preparations, with the last one being a month-long break from December 17 to the end of the Asian Cup on February 1.


India's schedule:

06 January, 2019 — Thailand vs India

10 January, 2019 — India vs United Arab Emirates

14 January, 2019 — India vs Bahrain


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