Bengaluru, October 12: As India get ready to take on China in an international friendly in Suzhou City on Saturday (October 13), former captain Jo Paul Ancheri believes the visitors can give their hosts a run for their money.
The match to be held at the Suzhou Olympic Centre Sports Stadium at 5.05pm IST is the first for India in the Chinese soil, with all their previous meetings having taken place at home.
India's coach Stephen Constantine had announced a 22-member squad which will be led by Sandesh Jhingan.
India's record against the dragons has been poor, or rather abysmal. The two countries have played each other 17 times with India yet to taste success, while China won on 12 occassions and the remaining five ending in a stalemate.
For the first time ever the Indian Senior National Team will be playing an International Friendly in China. Let's cheer loud as they face the Red Dragons on October 13. #CHNvIND #BackTheBlue #AsianDream #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/iXMR2tqkKy— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) October 7, 2018
Despite this, as India make their trip to the far east to play China for the first time away from home, there is hope and Ancheri thinks this is the preparation India needed at this time, especially with the AFC Asian Cup on the horizon.
"It will be a good experience for the Indian team as they are playing away in China. It is a friendly but they should give their all as they are preparing for the AFC Asian Cup," Ancheri said.
The AFC Asian Cup will be held from January 5 to February 1 at eight venues in the UAE. India are returning to the continental competition after an eight-year gap, having missed out on the previous edition in Australia. The last time they competed in the quadrennial extravaganza was at the 2011 editiion held in Qatar where they lost in the group stage.
In the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, India are drawn in a tough group featuring the hosts, Bahrain and Thailand.
Ancheri had triggered football revolution in India in the early 90s along with the legendary IM Vijayan. He went on play for almost all the big clubs in India at that time including SBT, JCT, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. Ancheri, whose left-footer is part of the football lore, feels India should play more against quality opposition like China.
"It will give us a good opportunity to assess our weaknesses as we are playing a stronger team," added the 43-year-old.
China, with Italy's 2006 World Cup winning coach Marcelo Lippi at the helm of affairs, has attracted wide attention with high-profile signings in the Chinese Super League. The national team is ranked 76, 21 places above India.
Still the two-time AIFF Player of the Year would like to put his money on India.
"India is in a good position and can put up a fight against any team," Ancheri concluded.
China vs India, Saturday (October 13), 5.05pm IST.
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Karanjit Singh.
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Sarthak Golui, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhasish Bose, Narayan Das.
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Halicharan Narzary, Ashique Kuruniyan.
FORWARDS: Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary.