Having started off their AFC U-22 Championship qualifiers with a win and a narrow loss against Lebanon and Iraq respectively, India next take on United Arab Emirates (UAE) , who having registered two wins till now and are a place above India in the standings, and behind Iraq on goal difference, beating Oman 2-0 and Turkmenistan 1-0.
While there is a huge gap in the FIFA rankings between the two sides, the Al Abyad players are definitely not taking India lightly, especially after their brilliant displays in the first two ties, in the second of which they gave the much higher ranked Iraq a run for their money.
Amer Omar, UAE’s U-22 striker who scored the winner against Turkmenistan stuck a cautionary note and stated, “This match with India is going to be very difficult because they are at a good level. Their results speak for themselves. They beat Lebanon comfortably and despite losing to Iraq you could see
that they were the better side in the game. This is an indication that India will not be easy opponents as everyone expects.”
“Winning this match will give us great confidence and a third straight win will take the pressure of us as it will help us maintain our position in the group because there are tough games coming up after
that with Lebanon and Iraq,” he further added.
Midfielder Abdullah Al Jamahi also warned his side against any complacency against a well drilled Indian side, but was confident his side had the tools to come away with a win from the encounter at the Royal Oman Police Stadium, where they are playing for the first time after playing both their earlier matches at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Al Jamahi opined, “We are playing at a high level, but we mustn’t get carried away and be over-confident and underestimate the opponents. It will be important to follow the game plan. If we can do that like we have in the two previous games we can win and improve our standing in the group.”
“We are a side with good potential, but there are three more games to play before we can qualify.”
Head Coach Bader Saleh also expressed his happiness at his team’s performance and was optimistic about his side’s chances in the tournament. He said, “Despite the difficult weather conditions, the players did everything right (in the games so far). They conquered the heat and humidity.
“Now we are looking forward to win all our games and qualify as group leaders. We want to have a perfect record and qualify for the inaugural edition of the tournament,” he concluded.
With Lebanon facing Iraq and Oman tackling the Turkmen elsewhere tonight, India’s position in the
group could be strengthened, if results go their way.
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