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Who will India face in the group stages?
07 May 2018, 12:36 | Katrina Lee
Non-friends Saudi Arabia and Qatar draw same Asian Cup group
A game of chances.
Saudi Arabia is one of five teams in the expanded tournament that is focused on the World Cup in Russian Federation.
Meanwhile captain Sunil Chhetri, along with Iranian legend Ali Daei, iconic Chinese player Sun Jihai and Philippines' star Philip James Younghusband coordinated the picks for the four respective pots helping AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John to conduct the draw.
"We actually had four dummy draws before the actual thing". We were really happy to be at the Asian Cup.
"If you compare it to the 2011 draw - where we were placed with Australia, South Korea and Bahrain - it's not as bad".
The Azkals, ranked an all-time high of 113th in the world and 19th in Asia in the latest Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, are in Group C of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup along with powerhouses Korea (61st overall, fourth in Asia) and China (73rd overall, sixth in Asia) and fellow newcomer Kyrgyz Republic (75th overall, seventh in Asia). One was against Delhi Dynamos which we totally dominated but still lost. "I won't say it's an easy group but we have the ability to win against some of these teams and on our day, we can beat majority", Constantine, who attended the draw along with team manager Shanmugam Venkatesh, said. The two met last September in a thrilling World Cup qualification play-off, when Australia triumphed narrowly across two legs to halt Syria's incredible run. Chhetri said that the difference between the two teams is that the 2011 squad was a settled side and this time, they have a young and dynamic side.
This is for the first time that an Indian footballer was asked to be associated with the draw ceremony for the Asian championship. The last time the event was held in the Emirates, in 1996, the UAE recorded their best result, finishing runners-up to Saudi Arabia.
If Australia top their group, which they will be favourites to do, they will face the best-ranked third place team from one of three groups, before a potential quarter-final with rivals Japan.
Indian football has been on the rise since the last couple of years. I believe on our day we can beat anybody.
"It's not about the country where the coach comes from".
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