Asian Cup tune-up: India to play China in international friendly

It has been 21 years since India played China in an international friendly as India looks to register its first ever victory against its neighbor.

India and China have met 17 times on international stage with 12 wins for China and 5 draws.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The All India Football Federation (AIFF), on Friday, confirmed that the senior national team will play China in an international friendly in October, as part of preparation for the 2019 Asian Cup.

The 97th-ranked Indian team will travel to Beijing to play against the 75th ranked China national team during the October 8-16, 2018 FIFA window.

Though the date for the friendly will be decided in coming days, AIFF has proposed Saturday, October 13, as the match day.

India and China have each other faced 17 times, all on Indian soil -- the last being 21 years ago in the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997.

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Recently, the India U-16 national team visited China for an invitational four-nation tournament, which also included U-16 Thailand and U-16 DPR Korea.

The October friendly assumes huge importance as it will set the pace for India’s preparatory process for the AFC Asian Cup in January.

Terming the occasion as ‘historic’, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said: “China and India are today being seen as the two fastest emerging football markets, globally. We are happy to have come to the conclusion of our month long discussion with the Chinese FA, and I thank our marketing partners FSDL for their involvement and cooperation.

“The opportunity presents us with an opportunity not just break the two-decade deadlock, but also provides us a chance to revive the neighbouring rivalry,” he added.

India is yet to win a match against China. Of the past 17 matches, 12 have gone in favour of China while rest five were drawn.

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However, the senior team has been on upsurge over the last couple of years, maintaining an unbeaten run of 12 official matches for a span which extended from June 2016 to November 2017.

National coach Stephen Constantine expressed satisfaction about the tie. “With an eye on the preparation for the Asian Cup, as a coach I couldn’t have asked for anything better than an opponent like China. I am sure the boys will make the best of the opportunity presented to us and look forward to test ourselves ahead of the AFC competition.”

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