AFC Asian Cup 2019: Rating India's chances against UAE, Bahrain and Thailand in Group A
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 draw took place at the picturesque Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Friday evening.
India was represented by the captain Sunil Chhetri along with other dignitaries from the All India Football Federation at the event
Stephen Constantine's men ensured their qualification when they finished top of the Group A ahead of the Kyrgyz Republic, Myanmar and Macau in the third round of qualification losing just one game through the campaign.
The team made their way into the third round after defeating Nepal 2-0 in the first round but finished the last in the second round group stage.
However, India was fortunate to get entry into the playoff round where they defeated Laos to progress to the final round.
The Indian team was drawn in the Group A of the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Group A - United Arab Emirates, Thailand, India, Bahrain
India, who are ranked 97 in the FIFA rankings have been pitted against UAE (FIFA Rank - 81), Thailand (FIFA Rank - 122) and Bahrain (FIFA Rank - 116).
The hosts UAE are a strong side and although they qualified automatically as hosts, they are one of the top 10 countries in Asia and will be a tough nut to crack for India.
India have faced them eleven times so far and have won just on two occasions. UAE finished in the third place in the previous edition in 2015 and will be the favourites to top the group.
Thailand are a side who are making an appearance in the Asian Cup after a gap of 12 years. They played in the 2007 edition when they qualified as the co-host but did not progress past the group stage.
India have faced Thailand a total of 21 teams with just four wins but will hope they can upstage them in January for a chance to qualify to the next round.
The final opponent in the group is Bahrain, who have been a consistent fixture at the Asian Cup since the 2004 edition in China.
They finished fourth back then in 2004 but have never gone past the group stage since. India has never won against Bahrain in the five encounters so far.
Sunil Chhetri and co will begin the Asian Cup 2019 campaign against Thailand at the Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi on January 6, 2019.
Here are India's fixtures at the Asian Cup 2019:
6th January 2019 - India vs Thailand
10th January 2019 - India vs UAE
14th January 2019 - India vs Bahrain