Oman vs India: A mismatch in preparation for the AFC Asian Cup?

The Omani senior side have played double the number of games as compared to their Indian counterparts in the last twelve months...

On paper, India, ranked 97th, are placed only 15 places behind Oman in the FIFA Rankings. However, it is a complete mismatch when it comes to the manner these two sides have geared up for the biggest tournament in the region - the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

Oman and India face each other in an international friendly at the Baniyas Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE, ten days before the Asian Cup kicks off.

While Oman have been undefeated in the last 12 months, India's senior side have played exactly half the number of games in that period - seven as compared to 14 and lost three out of those games too.

The reigning Arabian Gulf Cup champions have upped their preparations in the final stretch leading up to the mega event. The game against India is one of the five such fixtures which Dutch coach Pim Verbeek has lined up within a three-week period.

It all started off with a twin set of games at home against Tajikistan. The Red Warriors won both, 2-1 on 13 December and then 1-0 three days later. Having arrived in the UAE on December 22, Oman play India on 27th and then defending Asian Cup champions Australia on January 30.

Oman's preparation is capped off with a game against Thailand, who are one of  India's three Group A opponents. That will still give them ample time to fine-tune preparations for their opening Group F game against Uzbekistan at Sharjah on 9 January before taking on four-time champions Japan and Turkmenistan.

India Asian Cup

Not only this, but the Oman FA had utilised the last three FIFA international windows to its fullest by scheduling six games.

In contrast, India's preparation looks meek. In the last three windows, the senior side could play only two games. Even the game away at Jordan in November turned to be nothing short of a farce, with a chunk of the squad arriving hours before kick-off and failing to play a part in the game.

The final national camp began on December 17 and head coach Stephen Constantine chose 28 players to fly out to Abu Dhabi three days later.

The game against Oman is the only international quality opposition India face before taking on Thailand on January 6. The Blue Tigers are also expected to play a local team before the big tournament but the date and the opponent has not been announced yet.

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