A day prior to playing Oman in a friendly match scheduled at the Baniyas Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (December 27, 2018), Head Coach Stephen Constantine stressed "India haven't come here expecting to play easy games."
The match is part of Blue Tigers’ preparation for the forthcoming AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. Both the Head Coaches have decided on playing behind closed doors, the result of which there won’t be any telecast of the match. The match will kick-off at IST 7.30pm.
India begin their campaign in the Asian Cup against Thailand on January 6.
Commenting on the match against Oman, Constantine stated: "It's going to be extremely hard. We have come here to play the big boys of Asia. We played against the likes of Jordan, China. We need to play these sort of games to prepare in the best possible fashion.”
Oman are currently ranked 82 as per December FIFA Rankings, whereas India are at 97. India last played Oman in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 qualifiers twice, with Oman winning on both occasions.
"We were very unlucky to lose the first leg in Bengaluru,” Constantine reflected. “That was our first group stage game in the qualifiers. But we are a much improved side now, and much younger.”
Central midfielder Pronay Halder, who wasn’t part of the squad in the first-leg in Bengaluru complemented his Coach saying “we are a much matured side now.”
“We have matured a lot since then. Our organisation on the field is much better compared to what we were in 2015,” he opined.
India have been the first team to land in Abu Dhabi for the Asian Cup. “The facilities have been superb and it has been going on according to the plan so far. We have done our homework as well,” Constantine insisted.