India and Macau have experienced diametrically opposite campaigns so far in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. Macau are yet to win a single match so far, losing 1-0 to Kyrgyz Republic and 4-0 to Myanmar. India, on the other hand, have recorded 1-0 wins against both teams and are top of their group table while Macau are rooted to the bottom.
India and Macau have also followed different paths to reaching the third round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2019. India have reached the third round after going through the first round and getting to the play-offs after the second round. Macau were one of the two teams invited to the third round after the withdrawal of Guam and suspension of Kuwait.
India come into the match on a 10-match unbeaten run, nine of which were wins. Skipper Sunil Chhetri had scored in both of India’s victories so far in the qualifiers. The 96th ranked India are hence favourites to beat the 183rd-ranked Macau but the players and coach Stephen Constantine are under no illusions.
“2019 isn’t far and we have to be there,” Constantine is quoted as saying by an AIFF release, “I feel Macau were a bit unlucky against the Kyrgyz Republic. But we are here to play our game and we need to concentrate on ourselves. It’s true that we are at the top of the table at the moment but we need to work harder if we are to stay there.”
Captain Sunil Chettri also echoed his coach in not taking the game for granted. “We are a confident group. We are confident of our abilities. But we are not judging Macau by what happened to them in their last two matches. It’s a fresh match, and we start afresh.”
It would be a surprise if India do end up on the losing side or indeed even draw the match. Macau are going through a phase of instability with their manager and technical director both calling it quits recently. Moreover, many of their first team players are either out injured or making returns after time in the sidelines.