India to use Intercontinental Cup as springboard for UAE 2019 challenge
Mumbai: India will kickstart their preparations for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 by hosting the Intercontinental Cup Football Tournament 2018 that takes place in Mumbai on June 1 to 10.
Joining India in the inaugural tournament are Chinese Taipei, Kenya and New Zealand as Stephen Constantine’s squad look to get in valuable match practise ahead of Asia’s showpiece tournament in the UAE, where the South Asians are drawn in Group A.
It is a challenging group with India having hosts the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Bahrain for company.
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“We are in a tough group in the AFC Asian Cup but we are also confident that we can match our opponents,” said defender Sandesh Jhingan to the All India Football Federation website.
“However, we have to go into the AFC Asian Cup in our best shape and to achieve that, we have to play against tough teams (in the buildup.)”
Competitive friendly matches, said Jhingan, would be key for India ahead of their challenge in the UAE come January.
“In the AFC Asian Cup, we are going to get physical teams. Bahrain are a physical team, so are UAE. So now if we play teams like Kenya we will get to know our weaknesses and on what aspects we need to work on before the AFC Asian Cup.
"You don't want to go and play against teams that are not strong or not at the same level. You want to play against teams that always keep you on your toes because that's how you learn."
India open their campaign against Asian rivals Chinese Taipei on Friday with the tournament to be played on a round-robin format with the top two sides advancing to the final on June 10.
Fixtures (all matches kick-off at 8pm local time)
June 1: India v Chinese Taipei
June 2: Kenya v New Zealand
June 4: India v Kenya
June 5: Chinese Taipei v New Zealand
June 7: India v New Zealand
June 8: Chinese Taipei v Kenya
June 10: Final
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