Asian Cup 2019: Hosts UAE buy 5,000 tickets to ensure 'home' advantage against India
Hosts United Arab Emirates have adopted a unique strategy to ensure that they make the best use of the home advantage during the crucial Group ‘A’ tie against India this coming week.
As per reports, the UAE Football Association has purchased 5,000 tickets for the game against India and plans to distribute it only among the Emirati fans on the match day for free to pack the stands with home support.
The UAE has a big expat population from the subcontinent. Apart from Indians, there are people from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal who are making a living in the UAE. The UAE federation's move to buy tickets for its own fans is possibly aimed at avoiding the stands being filled up by this expat population from the subcontinent.
The AFC Asian Cup has been electrifying so far, with the underdogs hogging the limelight so far. The opening match saw a spirited Bahrain held a much fancied UAE side 1-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
On the other hand, Jordan shocked defending champions Australia by a solitary goal by Anas Bani Yaseen, while South Korea narrowly defeated the Philippines.
India played outstanding football in their opening match to script its first Asian Cup victory in 54 years. Sunil Chhetri and Co pipped Thailand with a scoreline of 4-1 to enhance their chances of a knockout stage berth. Goal from Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua and a brace from Chhetri helped the ‘Blue Tigers’ collect all the three points on offer.
The United Arab Emirates are the clear favourites to top the group, but a shaky start in the competition might just make things a bit more complicated.
With India already gaining full points in their tie along with a +3 goal difference, the hosts need to stage a big turnaround in the upcoming match. Meanwhile, Stephen Constantine’s boys will be upbeat after the win, but it will be an uphill task for them against the Arab nation, especially at their own den.
India is scheduled to play against the United Arab Emirates on January 10 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match will kick off at 9.30 pm IST.
The hosts will play their last group stage match against Thailand in Al Ain on January 14, simultaneously India will face off against Bahrain in Sharjah. These games too will kick off at 9.30 pm IST.