Indian captain Sunil Chhetri stresses on importance of playing international friendlies away from home
He stated that the Indian team is on the bottom of the charts at the continental level.
What's the story?
On Wednesday, Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri spoke about the importance of India playing more away international games as they get ready for the AFC Asian Cup in 2019. He also stated that the Indian side is at the bottom when compared to other nations who they could face in the competition.
“We are at the bottom, man. Whoever we get is going to be better than us,” he was quoted as saying by IANS, when asked which nations they should play friendlies against before the tournament.
“We should aim to play the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Palestine and Lebanon (in the friendlies),” he added.
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The Indian team qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 after beating Macau in October last year and are currently on top of their group, which consists of Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Macau.
The heart of the matter
Chhetri said that the Indian team needs to play more away games against good sides in order to be well-prepared for the AFC Asian Cup in 2019. He acknowledged that India's home record has been good but their away record needs improvement and they also need to play better opposition teams.
He feels that India should try to get matches against teams ranked between 8-16 in the AFC rankings and play them at their home grounds.
The captain also recognized that this year's qualification draw was easier for them and thus, they need to play against better opposition to have a chance of progressing further than the group stage.
India will face off against Kyrgyzstan in the final match of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers on March 27, 2018. The AFC Asian Cup will be held in the United Arab Emirates in January 2019.
Sunil Chhetri, as usual, is correct with this statement and it is extremely important that India plays quality opposition in their build-up to the continental tournament.