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Asian Cup 2019: India v Oman friendly may be played behind closed doors

EXPERT COLUMNIST
News
24 Dec 2018, 17:18 IST

Indian forward Sunil Chhetri
Indian forward Sunil Chhetri

The international friendly between India and Oman on December 27 may not be telecast on Star Sports Network, it is learnt.

The game will be the last national side that India will play before the Asian Cup in January, but it could be played behind closed doors.

Indian football fans are already enraged with Star as the broadcaster decided to pull the plug on half of the I-League matches from December 29. It appears Star will only show 30 out of the remaining 60 games from the second half of the season.

ALSO READ: Twitter reacts to Star's announcement on I-League matches

However, this decision is beyond Star, the holders of the broadcast rights for all national team games until the end of the Asian Cup. The federations of both countries (All India Football Federation and Oman Football Association) are understood to be against the idea of broadcasting the game.

India coach Stephen Constantine and his Omani counter Pim Verbeek do not want their team tactics leaked so close to the Asian Cup.

ALSO READ: Star's death sentence to I-League

This could also mean that India's other friendly, to be played against a UAE-based club on Dec 30, will also not be shown. The fans can, however, follow the text commentary on the Twitter handle of the Indian Football team.

India were the first team to reach UAE before the Asian Cup. They landed in Abu Dhabi on Dec 20, about 17 days before their first game.

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"I think it's a huge advantage for us to settle in early. It helps us get an idea of the distances, the weather and acclimatise ourselves with everything. The last thing which I wanted was to come in at the last minute, and not having any idea about the food and culture which is very important before such a massive tournament,” Constantine told the AIFF.

“I think it gives us a slight advantage at this time to correct some issues. Moreover, we needed time with the players,” the Englishman added.

India, placed in Group A, open their Asian Cup campaign against Thailand on January 6. They next face UAE, the hosts, on Jan 10 in Abu Dhabi. Their last group game will be in Sharjah against Bahrain.

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