India has a 50-50 chance of entering the second round of AFC Asian Cup, says Bhutia

Bhaichung Bhutia said India had a decent chance of making it to the second round of the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

Baichung Bhutia felt the current crop of Indian footballers were more tactically aware.   -  Ashoke Chakrabarty

Bhaichung Bhutia said India had a decent chance of making it to the second round of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 which gets underway in UAE from January 5.

“I feel it’s a good group to be in – with Thailand, UAE and Bahrain. I think we have a 50-50 chance of making it to the second round. It will all depend on the hard work the boys put in, and a little bit of luck,” the former India footballer said.

India will face Thailand in its first match of the tournament on January 6.

“I urge the team to give their all, and leave no stone unturned. They should enjoy the atmosphere of being part of such a big tournament.”

Read: We plan to play to our strengths, says Anas Edathodika

Bhaichung maintained that India’s long-term vision should be to qualify for every edition of the tournament.

On the significance of the Asian Cup, he said: “It’s obviously great that you get to share space and hotels with some of the greatest players in Asia and world football. As a player, you dream about playing against such opposition. These are the moments we footballers live for as the entire continent, and even the world is watching you!”.

He said the current crop of Indian footballers were more tactically aware than during his playing days. “Players nowadays are more tactically aware and have a better understanding of their individual responsibilities in the team which are clearly marked out,” he told AIFF in an interview.

Also read: Pronay Halder confident of India's chances

The former India captain said the footballing eco-system had vastly improved in the country. “There has been an increase in the general level of interest in the game and the clubs have become much more well-organized and professionally run than before.

“More and more youngsters are getting involved in the game and the number of games being shown on national television have also gone up,” he said.

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