India to play friendly with Oman ahead of AFC Asian Cup
Indian football team is set to play Oman in an international friendly in Abu Dhabi on December 27 for the preparation of the AFC Asian Cup scheduled later. Oman is ranked higher than India with a FIFA ranking of 84 as against India’s 97, according to October standings.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary, Kushal Das said it was important for the national side to play “stronger opposition” in build up to the AFC Asian Cup. “Oman are a very strong team. We were drawn against them in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers and are aware of their quality and strength. It will be the perfect test for our boys as they gear up for the Asian Cup,” he said.
“I need to thank the Oman Football Federation for agreeing to play the match in Abu Dhabi,” Das added.
National coach Stephen Constantine also believed that this preparatory match will help India in the Asian Cup as Oman is similar to Bahrain and United Arab Emirates — both these teams are clubbed with India in the same group of the AFC Asian Cup.
“Oman will be in some ways very similar to Bahrain and UAE which is why we wanted to play them so that we can get a good idea of what we are going to face in the group stages,” Constantine said.
“It’s now a question of trying to establish a rhythm and making sure we all know what we have to do. In our last game against Jordan, the circumstances were exceptional and that was a good learning experience for all the players,” India coach said further.
For the record, India last faced Oman in 2015 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The Indians lost 2-1 in Bengaluru and then went down 4-0 in Muscat. According to the coach, the Omani team is completely different currently. “After three years, we are a completely different team and I believe we are getting better. It should be a great game for us,” The British coach hoped.
However, India will take on Thailand in their AFC Asian Cup 2019 UAE at the Al Nahyan Stadium on January 6 next year.