In this edition of the quadrennial tournament, 24 teams will take part and they were divided into six groups during the draw. Top two teams from each group and four best third-placed teams will make it to the round of 16 stage. India was the first team to be picked from Pot 3 and hence were slotted in Group A alongside hosts UAE. Thailand and Bahrain were drawn from Pot 2 and 4 respectively.
After the draw speaking exclusively to Goal, Derrick Pereira, the assistant manager of FC Goa, sounded optimistic about India's chances to progress to the knock-out stages.
"India has grown a lot since the last time we played in Asian Cup. Thailand and UAE are good teams but they are not invincible. We should do well. If we believe in ourselves and continue our development there is no reason that we should not progress," said Pereira.
But the 56-year-old former India international does not believe that rankings indicate the true quality of a team and instead stressed on preparations and match day performance to make bring a positive outcome. India are the second-best ranked team in the group (97) while UAE are ranked at 81st place. But even then, Pereira sounded out a warning for the team.
"I will not go by the rankings. It all depends on the performance in that 90 minutes. If we keep our head down and work hard till the tournament starts I am pretty hopeful of India's chances in the upcoming Asian Cup," signed off Pereira.