Asian Cup 2019: 5 Reasons Why India Not Playing Syria Friendly is Bad News
The Indian national football team was scheduled to face Syria on 30th December in the run-up to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Although the AIFF didn't confirm it via a press release, inside sources revealed that the match had almost been finalized.
However, it appears that the match against Syria has been brushed under the carpet and, the Blue Tigers will be facing a UAE-based club on Dec 30.
India's group opponents Thailand have just played the AFF Suzuki Cup and would cross swords with Oman on 2nd January. The hosts, UAE, are keeping their cards closed to the chest whereas Bahrain will be facing Tajikistan on Dec 20.
India will embark their 2019 AFC Asian Cup journey after locking horns with Oman and a UAE-based club. However, a match against Syria would have been good for the team.
In this article, we present 5 reasons why India should have played Syria and not a UAE-based club.
#5 Syria ranked higher than China and Oman
Let's dwell deep into all the opponents India faced in this calendar year and assess their performance. The Blue Tigers kickstarted 2018 with a 1-2 loss against then 115th-ranked Kyrgyz Republic in their own den on 27th March.
They followed it up by crushing the second-string sides of 121st-ranked Chinese Taipei 5-0 and 111th-ranked Kenya 3-0, before being humbled by the U-21 side of 133rd-ranked New Zealand 1-2 in the group stages of Intercontinental Cup. However, the Indian football team clinched the title by defeating Kenya 2-0 in the final to end June on a high.
Stephen Constantine then decided to field a U-23 side in the SAFF Cup. This side recorded a 2-0 win over 200th-ranked Sri Lanka and 150th-ranked Maldives in the group stages of the SAFF Cup. In the semi-finals, they beat a 201st-ranked Pakistan 3-1 before suffering a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Maldives in the final.
On 13th October, India put up a fortuitous but valiant effort against 76th-ranked China in the 0-0 draw in the fire-breathing caves of the Red Dragons. However, they failed to draw inspiration from the accomplishment and lost 1-2 to 112th-ranked Jordan.
Syria is currently ranked 74th and, a match against the Qasion Eagles in the venue where the continental extravaganza (Abu Dhabi) would be held would have been immensely helpful for India.
The FIFA rankings are a rough indication of a team's ability. The Syrian football team is ranked higher than all the countries India has faced in 2018. Not facing them in December is a golden opportunity missed.