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India gear up to play Oman behind closed doors

The match is part of India’s preparation for the forthcoming Asian Cup. Both the head coaches have decided on playing behind closed doors, the result of which there won’t be any telecast of the match and the crowd and media will be missing from the stands.

football Updated: Dec 26, 2018 18:25 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Abu Dhabi
Asian Cup,AFc Asian Cup,FIFA World Cup Russia 2018
India begin their campaign in the Asian Cup against Thailand on January 6.(AP)

Not willing to reveal their tactics, India and Oman will play behind closed doors their final international friendly before the AFC Asian Cup, here Thursday.

A day prior to the match at the Baniyas Stadium, India’s head coach Stephen Constantine stressed they “haven’t come here expecting to play easy games”.

The match is part of Blue Tigers’ preparation for the forthcoming Asian Cup. Both the head coaches have decided on playing behind closed doors, the result of which there won’t be any telecast of the match and the crowd and media will be missing from the stands.

India begin their campaign in the Asian Cup against Thailand on January 6.

Commenting on the match against Oman, Constantine stated: “It’s going to be extremely hard. We have come here to play the big boys of Asia. We played against the likes of Jordan, China. We need to play these sort of games to prepare in the best possible fashion.” Oman are currently ranked 82 in the FIFA rankings, while India are at 97. India last played Oman in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 qualifiers twice, with Oman winning on both occasions.

“We were very unlucky to lose the first leg in Bengaluru,” Constantine reflected. “That was our first group stage game in the qualifiers. But we are a much improved side now, and much younger.” Central midfielder Pronay Halder, who wasn’t part of the squad in the first-leg in Bengaluru complemented his coach, saying “we are a much matured side now”.

“We have matured a lot since then. Our organisation on the field is much better compared to what we were in 2015,” he opined.

India have been the first team to land in Abu Dhabi for the Asian Cup.

“The facilities have been superb and it has been going on according to the plan so far. We have done our homework as well,” Constantine insisted.

In the continental showpiece, India are looking to improve on their showing from the last time they took part in the tournament, in the 2011 edition, when they suffered three heavy defeats for a group stage-exit.

India’s 13-match unbeaten run under Constantine has given them hope of a better outing this time around, coming into the event not long after scaling their second-best ranking in the FIFA chart.

First Published: Dec 26, 2018 18:24 IST