The 2019 AFC Asian Cup starts on 5th January and is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates.
The 17th edition of the Asian cup starts with the hosts facing Bahrain at the ZSC Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The tournament will have a total 0f 24 nations participating with teams divided into 6 groups of 4 nations each.
What is most unique about the 2019 Asian Cup is that unlike other major tournaments, the semi-finalists who won’t make it to the finals will not have third place match amongst them.
India’s Chances of Progress:
India along with the hosts UAE, Thailand, and Bahrain are all part of Group A.
This year India has pretty good chances of making it to the knockout stage.
The top-ranked team in our group is UAE (79) followed by India. Even though the rankings are not that relevant in football, it is still a point to boast of before the tournament kicks off.
Thailand is making their first appearance in 12 years in the 2019 Asian Cup. Their previous appearance was when they co-hosted the tournament in 2007. Also, Thailand lost their official pre-tournament friendly 2-0 to Oman.
India faces Thailand for their first match and a win will not just gain us 3 points but also boost our confidence for the remaining matches against the relatively tougher teams.
India’s second match will be against the hosts UAE and even a draw will be a good result as it will give us points against the top-seeded team of the group and move us one step closer to the knockouts.
The third and final match of the group stage against Bahrain will be the toughest one in my opinion. Bahrain, although not that famous in the footballing side, has always made consistent appearances or made their name heard in major tournaments.
Although they have been inconsistent for most of their qualifying matches, their wins have been humiliating for the opponents.
What will work in our favor is that the four best third-placed teams will also make it into knockouts, just like the previous Euros. So even if we finish third with a good performance, we will make it to the knockouts.
India drew with two good teams, China and Oman in the matches leading up to the Asian Cup and secured qualification with two games to spare. It is hard not to get our hopes high for our chances in the AFC Asian Cup.
India’s Schedule and Telecast:
India’s first match against Thailand will be played on January 6th at 7 pm. India will face UAE on 10th January at 9:30 pm. India’s final group stage game against Bahrain is on January 14th at 9:30 pm.
Star Sports have the broadcasting rights to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in India and after the I-League tussle, they will definitely broadcast the matches. If they don’t, you can stream all the action online on Hotstar.
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