AFC Asian Cup 2019: What India's rivals in Group A have been up to

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Goal takes a closer look at what UAE, Thailand and Bahrain have been up to in preparations for the AFC Asian Cup...

Less than six months remain for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup to kick-off and the 24 participating teams remain busy in charting their preparations.

India, who are appearing in the continental showpiece after a gap of eight years, have been drawn in Group A alongside hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain.

While Stephen Constantine and India are currently occupied in preparations for the upcoming South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship in Bangladesh, we take a look at what their opponents in Group A have been up to in the meanwhile.

India Asian Cup

UAE

While the U23 team of the UAE is currently involved in the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta, the senior team had been on a bit of a hiatus in the last couple of months. They will be in action soon though, with an international friendly against Andorra this Saturday which will be held at the Das Goldberg Stadion in Grodig, Austria.

This will be the first competitive match for Alberto Zaccheroni’s men ever since their 0-1 defeat to Gabon during the King’s Cup in March this year.

Since August 1, a 27-man UAE squad has been undergoing a training camp in the city of Salzburg where they have already played friendly matches against Austrian club SC Leogang and Serie A outfit Udinese. UAE will play another friendly with Austrian club SC Mittersill before their international friendly against Andorra.

The fixture against Andorra will wrap up the training camp in Austria with the team set to return to the UAE on Sunday. This is the first of the five camps UAE will undertake before they play host to the AFC Asian Cup. The second camp will be held in Girona, Spain from September 1 to 12 where the Whites will play international friendlies against Trinidad Tobago and Laos.

The third training camp will be conducted in Barcelona from October 6 to 16 where Zaccheroni’s men will play friendlies against Honduras and Venezuela.

The fourth and fifth camp will be held back home in the UAE from November 6 to 20 and December 15 to 31 respectively where the team will play two more friendlies with teams which are yet to be decided. The final two camps are expected to be held at Al Ain.

S No. Match Venue Date
1 Andorra v UAE Grodig, Austria 18 August
2 UAE v Trinidad and Tobago Girona, Spain 6 September
3 UAE v Laos Girona, Spain 11 September
4 Honduras v UAE Barcelona, Spain 11 October
5 Venezuela v UAE Barcelona, Spain 16 October

BAHRAIN

Like the UAE, Bahrain’s U23 squad too is currently participating in the ongoing Asian Games. The senior team, meanwhile, have recently returned from a two-week training camp held in the Czech Repuclic. Helmed by Czech coach Miroslav Soukup, Bahrain held local club Hradec Kralove to a 1-1 draw during their training camp in Prague.

Now, the Middle East side will play a set of four international friendly matches in September and October at the Bahrain National Stadium, Riffa. The first of those matches will see Soukup’s men take on the Philippines on September 6 before locking horns with China four days later.

Then, they will lock horns against Syria on October 11 and then play a friendly against Palestine on October 16.

S No. Match Venue Date
1 Bahrain v Philippines Riffa, Bahrain 6 September
2 Bahrain v China Riffa, Bahrain 10 September
3 Bahrain v Sryia Riffa, Bahrain 11 October
4 Bahrain v Palestine Riffa, Bahrain 16 October

THAILAND

The War Elephants, as they are called, were recently dealt a 0-2 defeat at home at the hands of China. Head coach Milovan Rajevac gave several youngsters a run-out in the defeat and he will now focus his attention to an international friendly away at Hong Kong to be held in October.

The U23 side is also currently involved in the Asian Games. Rajevac will have the perfect opportunity to give his side’s preparations for the AFC Asian Cup the final touch when they take part in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

The five-time winners of the competition will lock horns with Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and a qualifier in Group B of the tournament which will run from November 8 to December 15.

S No. Match Venue Date
1 Hong Kong v Thailand Hong Kong 11 September
2 Qualifier v Thailand TBA 9 November
3 Thailand v Indonesia Bangkok, Thailand 17 November
4 Philippines v Thailand Bocaue, Philippines 21 November
5 Thailand v Singapore Bangkok, Thailand 25 November

 

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