King's Cup: Curacao coach Bicentini expects 'an open competition' against India

Curacao head coach Remko Bicentini said his team will use the match against India to 'try out a number of game elements'.

India returns to the iconic King's Cup after a gap of 38 years.   -  AIFF Media

India will face Curacao in the opening match of the King's Cup on Wednesday, June 5 in Buriram, Thailand. It will be the first game under Igor Stimac, who was appointed in May after Stephen Constantine stepped down following India's AFC Asian Cup exit earlier this year.

FOLLOW LIVE | India vs Curacao: All updates from the match

Curacao is placed 82nd in FIFA rankings, better than India's position at 101. Vietnam and Thailand are the other two teams in the competition.

Curacao will use the tournament as a platform to prepare for the Gold Cup later in June. "The King's Cup is a competitive tournament in Thailand. The circumstances here are ideal for training and hence we are focusing on getting ready for our next two matches," said head coach Remko Bicentini.

READ | How to follow the Indian football team at King's Cup 2019

"I expect an open competition in our first match against India. We will use this game to try out a number of game elements. The Indian team has a new coach on board who will understandably transfer his ideas to the team. A number of good players are currently playing in India including Sandesh Jhingan and Sunil Chhetri. We will certainly take that into account," the Dutchman said.

Chhetri, who will become the most capped Indian international on Wednesday with 108 appearances, expressed satisfaction with India's build-up to the World Cup qualifiers.

"It is brilliant. We are playing Curacao, and then we get either Vietnam or Thailand in the King’s Cup. Later, we come back home and play in the Hero Intercontinental Cup where we face Syria, DPR Korea, and Tajikistan. They are strong teams.

ALSO READ | Indian football team learning from 'Professor' Luka Radman

"This is exactly what Indian football needs. It’s a very good build-up for the World Cup qualifiers which kick off in September."

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said, "The upcoming five games, combining the King’s Cup and the Hero Intercontinental Cup are of immense importance.I want to applaud the AIFF for getting the kind of games they have set for us. Most of our opponents are at a better level than us. That’s the kind of matches we need. Such matches will make us tougher."

Defender Jhingan stressed the importance of playing strong opponents, stating it is essential for the team's development.

"We won’t improve unless we play tough opponents. Tough teams will present their own set of challenges as they will have tougher players. We need to battle shoulder to shoulder with them to see where we stand and improve on our strengths," he said.