Constantine: ‘Match against China is what we need’

India is set to play China in an international friendly next month and head coach Stephen Constantine is upbeat about the fixture.

India football team coach Stephen Constantine with the team. (File Photo)   -  H. Vibhu

India is scheduled to play China in an international friendly on October 13 and head coach Stephen Constantine is upbeat about the opportunity for his side.

He feels a match against a strong side would help in his side’s preparations for next year’s Asian Cup.

“China are a strong team and the match will be a tough test for us. But we need to play these sort of games right now. Getting to play under pressure is important and an away fixture in China is exactly the kind of game we need,” Constantine said.

“Hopefully, everyone stays injury-free as it’s going to be an important game for the build-up to the AFC Asian Cup in January,” he added.

READ | India to visit China for first time ever for an International friendly

This is the first time ever that an Indian senior national team will be travelling to China. The two nations have faced 17 times so far, but all on Indian soil. The last time they faces was in the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997. India is yet to win a match against China. China won 12 of the 17 matches and the the remaining five were drawn.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is looking forward to a “long bilateral footballing relationship” with China.

“Globally, India and China are now being looked up to as two of the fastest emerging football markets. The match will usher in a new era in Asian football as this is the first-time ever that the Indian national team will be travelling to play in China. We look forward to a long term bilateral footballing relationship with China in near future,” said AIFF general secretary Kushal Das.

“Playing against China in China is a perfect way to gear up for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. China are a supremely talented side and it will provide us an opportunity to further gauge ourselves where we stand prior to the Continental Championships,” he said.