The Indian football team will play against Oman on December 27 in Abu Dhabi just before the start of its AFC Asian Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates, the national federation said Monday. This will be the third match for India as part of its preparations against a team that is taking part in the January 5-February 1 Asian Cup, to be held in three cities of the UAE.
India had drawn goal-less with China while losing to Jordan 0-1 in its earlier two matches. India is placed in Group A in the Asian Cup while Oman is in Group F. India begins its campaign against Thailand on January 6 in Abu 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.
All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das said, “Oman are a very strong team. We were drawn against them in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers and are aware of their quality and strength. It will be the perfect test for our boys as they gear up for the Asian Cup.”