Asian Cup 2019: Group A preview - UAE, India, Thailand, Bahrain
The Southeast Asian giants, known as War Elephants, have a point to prove in the competition.
Thailand failed to defend the AFF Suzuki Cup, crashing out of the competition after losing to Malaysia. They will come into the Asian Cup looking to make the knockouts with results over India in their opener and Bahrain in their second game.
Goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan has been ruled out of the tournament after suffering a foot injury in October. Chatchai Bootprom, who did not have a great AFF Suzuki Cup, will have to step up and make those important saves for the Thais.
Midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin, who was named in J-League's Best XI for this year, will be their most creative player. Playing for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, Songkrasin will give the Indian defence a tough time.
Theerathon and Tristan Do can act as wing-backs, providing the much-needed support for main striker Teerasil.
All said and done, Thailand can definitely progress from this group but their run could come to an abrupt halt in the knockouts.
Goalkeepers: Chatchai Bootprom (BG Pathum United FC), Saranon Anuin (Singha Chiangrai United), Siwarak Tedsungnoen (Buriram United)
Defenders: Theerathon Bunmathan (Muangthong United), Chalermpong Kerdkaew (Nakhon Ratchasima), Adison Promrak (Muangthong United), Pansa Hemviboon (Buriram United), Korrakot Wiriya-Udomsiri (Buriram United), Suphan Thongsong (Suphanburi), Mika Chunuonsee (True Bangkok United), Tristan Do (True Bangkok United)
Midfielders: Sasalak Haiprakhon (Buriram United), Sumanya Purisay (True Bangkok United), Thitiphan Puangjan (BG Pathum United FC), Sanrawat Dechmitr (True Bangkok United), Tanaboon Kesarat (BG Pathum United FC), Chanathip Songkrasin (Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo), Pokklaw A-Nan (True Bangkok United)
Forwards: Adisak Kraisorn (Muangthong United), Teerasil Dangda (Muangthong United), Sirod Chatthong (PT Prachuap), Chananan Pombupha (Suphanburi), Supachai Chaided (Buriram United)
Coach: Milovan Rajevac (Serbia)
Key players: Chanathip Songkrasin, Teerasil Dangda, Tristan Do
vs India on January 6 at 7 pm IST
vs Bahrain on January 10 at 4.30 pm IST
vs UAE on January 14 at 9.30 pm IST
The Middle-Eastern country scrapped through the qualifiers to seal their place in the Asian Cup final stages.
The Reds definitely enter this tournament as the underdogs and have a big test in their very first game against the hosts UAE on January 5.
The biggest star in Bahrain is Abdulla Yusuf Helal, who plays in the Czech First League for Bohemians Praha. The forward has notched five goals in 15 appearances for the club and he's expected to lead the way for Bahrain.
The Reds managed to reach semifinals of the Gulf Cup this year and their good performance in the regional tournament would have given them a lot of confidence ahead of the Asian Cup.
A lot will ride on captain Abdulwahab Ali Alsafi's form and the creativity that Ali Madan can bring in the midfield.
Bahrain can scrape through the next round if they manage to hold Thailand and stun India in their group games.
Goalkeepers: Sayed Shubbar Alawi (Najma), Yusuf Habib Hasan (Malkiyah), Abdulkarim Fardan Abdulkarim (Riffa)
Defenders: Sayed Mahdi Baqer (Nasr), Waleed Mohamed Alhayam (Muharraq), Hamad Mahmood Alshamsan (Riffa), Ahmed Merza Moosa (Hidd), Ahmed Ali Juma (Muharraq), Sayed Redha Isa (Riffa), Ahmed Mubarak Bughammar (Hidd), Ahmed Abdulla Ali (Najma)
Midfielders: Sayed Dhiya Saeed (Nasr), Abdulwahab Ali Alsafi (Muharraq), Mohamed Jasim Marhoon (Riffa), Ali Jaafar Madan (Najma), Ali Abdula Haram (Riffa), Jasim Ahmed Alshaikh (Ahli), Komail Hasan Alaswad (Riffa), Jamal Rashed Abdulrahman (Muharraq)
Forwards: Mahdi Faisal Alhumaidan (Ahli), Abdulla Yusuf Helal (Bohemians 1905), Mohamed Saad Alromaihi (Manama), Sami Mohamed Alhusaini (East Riffa)
Head Coach: Miroslav Soukup (Czech Republic)
Key players: Abdulwahab Al-Safi, Abdulla Yusuf Helal, Ali Madan
vs UAE on January 5 at 9.30 pm IST
vs Thailand on January 10 at 4.30 pm IST
vs India on January 14 at 9.30 pm IST
1) UAE, 2) India, 3) Thailand, 4) Bahrain