India seeks victory against Macau to seal AFC Asian Cup main draw berth

Having won all three of its Group ‘A’ matches so far without conceding a goal, India starts as the favourite against Macau.

A victory against Macau on Wednesday will seal the Indian side's passage to the AFC Asian Cup, which begins in the United Arab Emirates in January 2019.   -  Murali Kumar

India will aim to make a strong case for a 2019 AFC Asian Cup main draw spot, with a good show against Macau in a qualification fixture here on Wednesday.

A victory will guarantee the side's passage to the continental championship, which begins at United Arab Emirates in January 2019.

India – the side that has won all three of its Group ‘A’ matches thus far without conceding a goal – starts as the favourite.

When the two nations met last month, at Macau, Balwant Singh scored a brace to give India a 2-0 victory. Macau did hold its own in the first-half, with the rival finding the net only after the restart.

India skipper Sunil Chhetri stated that the team is focussed on putting up an improved show. “In the earlier outing against Macau, we had a lot of ball possession, but we couldn’t convert. We have worked on these small mistakes. Macau is a good side, and we won't take them lightly," Chhetri said here on Tuesday.

Coach Stephen Constantine took a cautionary route as well. “We are almost there, but we’re not there yet. We are one breath away from qualifying for the Asian Cup for the very first time. But then, we cannot look too far ahead,” he said.

Macau Head Coach Chan Hiu Ming elaborated on the amateur football culture in his country. “Most of our players are amateurs. They hold private jobs to earn a living, and train football in their free time. I appreciate the huge passion that they have for football. Having said that, when they enter a match, they play like professionals.

You saw that when we took on India last month. Yes, India is the better team.
In terms of the world ranking, India is 107 and we are at 182. But, we are trying our best to close the gap,” a soft-spoken Ming said.