India turned down offer to play Iran in friendly, reveals Stephen Constantinehttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/afc-asian-cup-2019-india-turned-down-offer-to-play-iran-in-friendly-reveals-coach-stephen-constantine-5501025/

India turned down offer to play Iran in friendly, reveals Stephen Constantine

India plays Oman on December 27 in what will be their final game ahead of the Asian Cup. They have been drawn in Group A with hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain.

India play Oman on December 27 in what will be their final game ahead of the Asian Cup. (AP)

Coach Stephen Constantine revealed that India refused a friendly against Iran that was to be played on December 27, 2018. Constantine said so while explaining how practice matches and friendlies are scheduled. The Englishman said that he would have liked it if India had played more matches ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup that starts on January 5.

“We have two weeks there in Abu Dabhi to get acclimatised. As far as preparations are concerned, it is okay. We could have had a few more games but that wasn’t for a lack of trying,” he said in an interaction with the media on the eve of the Indian camp’s departure to the UAE in New Delhi.

“(Iran coach) Carlos Quieroz had rung me up and asked me if we’d be interested in playing on the 27th of December but we already had a friendly lined up against Oman then,” he said.

India play Oman on December 27 in what will be their final game ahead of the Asian Cup. They have been drawn in Group A with hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain. Their first match will be against Thailand on January 6 at Abu Dhabi’s Al Nahyan Stadium before playing UAE on January 10 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium. Their final group game against Bahrain will be played at the Sharjah stadium on January 14.

Constantine said that two of the 34 probables that were set to travel to the UAE have been sidelined due to injuries. Bengaluru FC’s Nishu Kumar and Chennaiyin FC’s Jerry Lalrinzuala won’t be travelling with the group.

“Jerry has a problem with his knee and Nishu is also out,” said Constantine in an interaction with the media in New Delhi on the eve of the team’s departure. “But one man down, the next man stands up.”

Advertising

The Indian football team twitter account later announced a 28-player-squad that will be travelling to the UAE.

Since playing their final qualifier for Asia’s premier international competition in March, India have played six friendly matches out of which four were at home as part of the Intercontinental Cup. The latter two were played away from home against China and Jordan. The first was a 0-0 draw while the second was a 2-1 loss for India.

An Indian U-23 squad had also played in Dhaka during this period in the South Asian Football Federation Championship in which they ended runners-up to the Maldives. Constantine had said before the tournament that this was the team that was due to play at the Asian Games in Jakarta/Palembang before the Indian Olympic Association announced that it won’t be sending a football team for the multi-sport event.