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Indian National Football Team: Know Your Rivals - Macau

15:34 BST 03/09/2017
Hong Kong Macau 2017
Goal tells you everything you need to know about the Blue Tigers' opponents in Group A of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup third round qualifiers...
Quick Facts

Country: Macau

FIFA Ranking: 183

Nickname: The Greens

Last match played:  Hong Kong 4-0 Macau (2nd September 2017)

Coach:  Chan Hiu Ming

Team Highlights

A total area one-fourth the size of Mumbai and a population the same as of Jamshedpur, the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China is an odd yet special blend of Chinese and Portuguese traditions in symbiosis. The last remaining European colony in Asia, Macau was returned to China by Portugal in only 1999.

Known more for its gambling and exotic high life shenanigans, sport in general is a mere afterthought but football survives in the minutest form given its Iberian influence on the port city. 

The only reason a separate football team for the region exists is because of an 'one country, two systems' agreement which governs the region. The Macau Football Association was almost psuhed into total darkness for a year in 2005 when FIFA, during its Sepp Blatter era suspended the body citing 'serious government interference'.

Macau's footprint on the global scale remains quite non-existent, never having qualified to their regional East Asian Cup, ever, let alone Asian Cups and World Cups.

However, the Greens did take part in the inaugural AFC Challenge Cup in 2006, meant for 'emerging nations'. A return of one point in that edition in Bangladesh, Macau only resurfaced last year in some sort of multi-nation tournament during the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia, being held for the first time ever.

Surprisingly, they ended runners-up to Nepal but in reality they had to go past the likes of Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Brunei to reach the final - most nations whose FIFA Rankings flirt just around the wrong side of the 100s.

Grouped along with India, Kyrgyz Republic and Myanmar in a bid to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, it seems yet another slog for the tiny footballing region - with twin defeats already registered against the Central and South-East Asian oppositions earlier this year.

Lessons from the past

It will be the first time India comes up against Macau in a senior game. However, India's U-16 team did thrash their Macanese counterparts 13-0 in a game played 33 years ago.

Macau enter this game on a shambolic losing streak, all gone haywire after their 1-0 defeat to Nepal in the final of the Solidarity Cup last November. They did put up a show at Bishkek but were pipped by a goal by the Kyrgyz Republic in March.

Myanmar thrashed them 4-0 at the same venue which will host India come Tuesday. Add to that, the tragic events of last month when Typhoon Hato, followed by Storm Pakhar destroyed hundreds of lives meaning a friendly against Malaysia on 25 August was cancelled.

On Saturday, 2nd September Hong Kong hosted Macau for the 73rd edition of the Inter-Port game where they were trounced 4-0, denting confidence rather than building some ahead of their do-or-die game against Stephen Constantine's men.

Predicted Line-up

After Tam Lao San called it quits in July, Technical Director of the Macau Football Association, Chan Hiu Ming took the dual responsibility of serving as the head coach of the Selecção Macaense.

His first match in charge in the weekend against his native Hong Kong might not have reaped immense benefits but he did rest quite a few key players who were carrying small niggles. Even striker Leong Ka Hang came into the second half, a week after being brought on for the final few seconds for club side Pegasus in the first game of the season.

Hiu Ming will not be afraid to start with three men in the back but if things go south soon, Kong Cheng Hou will be sacrificed for Chan Pak Chun to provide some defensive stability. 

The rest of the team picks itself as prolific leader Paulo Cheang Leang will once again take on the armband. Niki Torrão, who scored three goals in the Solidarity Cup last year will be hoping to pass his fitness test, otherwise Carlos Leonel Gois who played the full 90 against Hong Kong will be preferred up top.

Players To Watch Out For 

Leong Ka Hang: Crowned the Macau Footballer of the Year in 2011, aged only 18, Leong Ka Hang was sent to train in Japan for a few months and that reaped dividends as he now leads the line for his team. Plying his trade for Hong Kong side Pegasus, the 24-year-old was also declared the 'Most Valuable Player' during the 2016 Solidarity Cup.

Paulo Cheang Leong: The only survivor from the 2006 AFC Challenge Cup squad which was Macau's first ever multi-national tournament, the midfielder is still going strong at 33. Adept both in central positions and on the flank, Cheang Leong can be a difficult customer to deal with that derilious left foot of his.

Full Squad

GOALKEEPERS: Ho Man Fai, Chi Hang Fong, Leong Chon Kit, Lo Weng Hou;

DEFENDERS: Lei Ka Him, Choi Chan In, Lao Pak Kin, Chan Pak Chun, Wong Vernon, Lei Chi Kin, Lei Ka Hou, Kam Chi Hou, Lam Ngai;

MIDFIELDERS: Paulo Cheang Ieong [C], Lam Ka Seng, Edgar Teixeira, Pang Chi Hang, Kong Cheng Hou, Ho Chi Fong, Cheong Hoi San, Sio Ka Un, Ng Wa Seng, Amancio Goitia Matos;

FORWARDS: Leong Ka Hang, Niki Torrão, Carlos Leonel Gois, Cheong Kin Chong.   


Follow Swapnaneel Parasar on  Twitter - @Swapyo