India likely to face Syria in Abu Dhabi ahead of 2019 AFC Asian Cup

The Indian football team is likely to take on Syria in a friendly match on December 30, ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to be held in UAE.

China's Gao Lin (C) takes a shot at goal during the friendly match against India.   -  AFP

The Indian football team is likely to play Syria in a friendly fixture ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das told Sportstar on Thursday.

"It is 90 per cent confirmed. By the next few days, we will have the official confirmation. If the game happens, it will be played in Abu Dhabi on the 30th of December," Das said.

This will be the national team's second friendly in three days, as it is already scheduled to play against Oman in Abu Dhabi on December 27.

The Indian team had earlier played friendlies against China and Jordan in October and November respectively. While the side played out a 0-0 draw against China, the match against Jordan proved to be a futile exercise as many regular players missed the match owing to logistical issues and injuries. A depleted Indian team went on to lose the match 2-1.

— Dearth of friendlies —

India has been drawn with host UAE, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A of the AFC Asian Cup. While India has played only two friendlies since October, the other three have played more than double in number, if not more.

Thailand has played eight games between October and early December, UAE has played six matches between September and November and Bahrain has played five matches between September and November.

The upcoming games against Oman and Syria will serve as a stern and much-needed challenge for Stephen Constantine's men. Both teams are better-ranked than India, with Oman at 83 and Syria at 74, and will give the Blue Tigers a run for their money ahead of their return to the AFC Asian Cup after an eight-year-long hiatus.

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