India football team plays Cambodia to prepare for AFC Asian Cup
India football team will clash with Cambodia today on an artificial turf as part of their preparation for the AFC Asian Cup tournamentfootball Updated: Mar 22, 2017 11:05 IST
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will lead India in their international friendly versus Cambodia in Phnom Penh today. The match is part of India’s preparation for the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers later this year.
This will be the second time on the trot that Sandhu will skipper India. His first outing saw India routing Puerto Rico last year.
India will hope for a good result against Cambodia but playing on an artificial turf will make the match more challenging.
The match against Cambodia will be India’s first since the win against Puerto Rico, who were then ranked 114, 38 spots above the hosts, in Mumbai last September. It was India’s fourth straight win in 2016 under coach Stephen Constantine whose contract was renewed till the Asian Cup qualifiers in 2016.
India don’t have a great record in international matches away from home. The last time the Indian football team won an international friendly was in June 2006. They beat Pakistan by a goal. India’s captain in that match Shanmugam Venkatesh is now the team’s manager.
“We will be playing on an artificial turf. We would have preferred to play on grass. But we need to adjust. It is a very important match for us ahead of the crucial match against Myanmar in the AFC Cup qualifiers,” said Constantine.
“There are 4-5 players who are carrying slight niggles so I haven’t decided on the starting XI. Let me see what suits us best,” Constantine said.
The weather conditions in Phnom Penh are quite similar to that in Yangon and it will be a good test for the Indians, added the coach.
India play Myanmar first
India open their Asian Cup qualifiers against Myanmar away on March 28. Also in the group are Kyrgyz Republic and Macau. The winners and runners-up will qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup finals. India last played the Asian Cup finals in 2011 after 27 years.
India lost 1-0 to Myanmar in the AFC Challenge Cup in March 2013 under head coach Wim Koevermans.
Cambodia are 172nd on the rankings list issued by Fifa in January. India are 129. India beat Cambodia 6-0 in a Nehru Cup match in 2007 when the visiting team was coached by Scott O’Donnell who subsequently became India’s technical director.
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