Ahmedabad is all set to host the 2019 Hero Intercontinental Cup from July 7 at the Trans Stadia Arena. India will host the likes of North Korea, Tajikistan and Syria in the 4-nation tournament. The ‘Blue Tigers’ will kick-start in the opening game this Sunday, followed by their fixture against North Korea on July 13. Sunil Chhetri and co. will face-off heavyweights Syria in their last group stage match on July 16. The final will be played at the same venue on July 19.
This is the second edition of the tournament and the first time that it will be played in Ahmedabad. India is the defending champions, having won the tournament in last year with a 2-0 win over Kenya in the final. The other teams which participated in the 2018 edition were Kenya, Chinese Taipei and New Zealand. India was the highest ranked team in the last Intercontinental Cup.
Syria, at the 85th spot, is the highest ranked team in this year’s Hero Intercontinental Cup, while India is second highest with a ranking of 101. Even though India emerged as the champions last year, Syria will be a hard nut to crack for the Igor Stimac led squad. The other two teams, Tajikistan and North Korea are ranked 120th and 122nd respectively.
Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019:
Teams: India, Tajikistan, Syria, North Korea
Date: July 7-19
Venue: Trans Stadia, Ahmedabad
July 7: India vs Tajikistan 20:00 (8 p.m)
July 8: Syria vs North Korea 20:00 (8 p.m)
July 10: Tajikistan vs Syria 20.00 (8 p.m)
July 13: India vs North Korea 20.00 (8 p.m)
July 15: North Korea vs Tajikistan 20.00 (8 p.m)
July 16: India vs Syria 20.00 (8 p.m)
July 19: Final
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AFC Asian Cup 2019 record:
India: Having won the first match against Thailand, the 'Blue Tigers' lost consecutive matches to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. They were eventually knocked out in the group stages of the tournament.
Syria: They managed to garner just a single point in their quota of three matches. The draw against Palestine was followed by defeats to Jordan and Australia.
North Korea: The team had a forgettable AFC Asian Cup campaign, having each and every match. Not only that, North Korea conceded 14 goals, which is the most by any team.
Tajikistan: Did not qualify
India recently featured in the King's Cup in Thailand for the very first time. Even though they lost the first match to an upbeat Curacao. But the 'Blue Tigers', with a relatively young team, scripted a victory over a spirited Thailand squad. It was the first victory under the leadership of Croatian coach Igor Stimac.
This is going to be another challenge for the tactician, especially with big assignments in the future. 2022 World Cup qualifiers will kick-start later this year. This will be a good opportunity for the coach to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the players before the qualifiers. Indian legend Sunil Chhetri will once again lead the team and try to add another feather to his cap.
India’s 25-man preliminary squad for Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Anas Edathodika, Narender Gahlot, Subhasish Bose, Jerry Lalrinzuala.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Amarjit Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mandar Rao Desai.
Forwards: Jobby Justin, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh.