India clubbed with UAE, Thailand and Bahrain in 2019 AFC Asian Cup football
India has been clubbed with hosts United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup football to be held in United Arab Emirates after the official draw held here tonight.
National team captain Sunil Chhetri, Iranian legend Ali Daei, iconic Chinese player Sun Jihai and Philippines’ star Philip James Younghusband helped AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John in conducting the draw.
National team head coach Stephen Constantine was also present on the occasion.
The top 24 teams from all over Asia, including hosts UAE, were drawn into six groups of four teams each.
Teams in a group will play each other once and the top two from each group will qualify to the Round of 16 along with the best four third-placed teams.
The continental championship will be held across eight stadia in four cities in the UAE -- Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain -- January 5 to February 1 next year.
Speaking at the draw, Chhetri said: “The AFC Asian Cup is an enormous opportunity for us and we are looking forward to it. Back home in India, everyone is excited and we have the blessings of all the people and we will do our best.”
“The AFC Asian Cup gives us the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best of Asia and play against players who many of whom play in many a Premier League across Europe, and other parts of the world. It will be an eye-opener and even if it is a learning experience, we aim to be competitive and give our best on the pitch,” he said.
Chhetri was part of the national team in the 2011 Doha Asian Cup, the last time India played in the continental championship.
“Qualifying for the Asian Cup for the second time in eight years is great for Indian football,” he added.
This is India’s fourth qualification in the AFC Asian Cup. India had finished runners-up to Israel in 1964. In the 1984 edition, India crashed out at the group stage with one draw and three losses.