First in 21 years
NEW DELHI, July 20: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) confirmed on Friday that the Indian team will take part in an international friendly against Asian powerhouse China during the scheduled FIFA window in October.
The Indian team, who are placed 97th in the latest FIFA rankings, will travel to Beijing to play against the 75th ranked China during the FIFA window of October 8-16. Though the date for the friendly is yet to be decided, the AIFF has proposed Saturday, October 13 as the match day.
India and China have faced each other 17 times at the senior international level, all on Indian soil, the last encounter being 21 years ago at the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997.
India are yet to win a match against China. Off the 17 matches, 12 have gone in favour of China while the rest ended in draws. However, the Indian team have done well over the last couple of years, maintaining an unbeaten run of 12 official matches for a span which extended from June 2016 to November 2017.
Recently, the India U-16 team visited China for an invitational four-nation tournament which also included the U-16 teams of Thailand and North Korea.
The international friendly in October assumes huge importance as it will set the pace for India’s preparations for the AFC Asian Cup to be held in January, 2019 in UAE.
India coach Stephen Constantine expressed satisfaction over the AIFF’s efforts in scheduling the away tie against China and stated that the team needs to prepare in the best possible fashion for the AFC Asian Cup.
“With an eye on the preparation for the Asian Cup, as a coach, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than an opponent like China. I am sure the boys will make the best of the opportunity presented to us and look forward to test ourselves ahead of the AFC competition,” Constantine said. IANS