India to play friendly against Oman on December 27

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, November 27: The Indian national football team will play an international friendly against Oman on December 27 in Abu Dhabi just before the start of its 2019 AFC Asian Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates.

This will be the third match for India as part of its preparations against a team that is taking part in the AFC Asian Cup, to be held from January 5 to February 1 in three cities of the UAE.

India had drawn goalless with China while losing to Jordan 0-1 in its earlier two matches.

At the AFC Asian Cup, India is placed in Group A while Oman is in Group F. India begins its campaign against Thailand on January 6 in Abh Dhabi.

As per the October FIFA Rankings, Oman is ranked 84th in comparison to India's 97th.

The Indian team head coach Stephen Constantine said that Oman will be similar to Bahrain and UAE in playing style, both of whom India will be facing in the group stage of AFC Asian Cup.

"Oman will be in some ways very similar to Bahrain and UAE which is why we wanted to play them so that we can get a good idea of what we are going to face in the group stages," he said.

"It's now a question of trying to establish a rhythm and making sure we all know what we have to do. In our last game against Jordan, the circumstances were exceptional and that was a good learning experience for all the players."

India last played Oman in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers (in 2015) and lost 1-2 in Bengaluru and 0-4 in Muscat.

Constantine said his team is a "completely different" outfit now.

"After 3 years, we are a completely different team and I believe we are getting better. It should be a great game for us," said Constantine.

India is makings its return to the AFC Asian Cup after an eight-year gap. The Men in Blue last played at the quadrennial competition in the 2011 edition in Qatar where they crashed out in the group stage itself. They could not make it to the 2015 edition held in Australia which the hosts won.

(With inputs from Agencies).

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