Intercontinental Cup aftermath: Road ahead for Indian football
The triumph at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri on Sunday marked the end of the Blue Tigers' 2017-18 season
After bagging the Intercontinental Cup with a 2-0 win over Kenya in the final, the Indian football team is now looking at playing two or three friendlies as part of their preparation for the all-important AFC Asian Cup (January 5 to February 1). The triumph at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri on Sunday marked the end of the Blue Tigers' 2017-18 season. Stephen Constantine's next tournament will be the Asian Games (August 18-September 2) in Indonesia with an U-23 squad.
After the Asian Games, a full strength Indian team will depart for Bangladesh to participate in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship (September 4-15) following which the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has lined up two friendlies against Saudi Arabia and Syria at the end of the year, Constantine revealed.
"There will definitely be two games in December before the Asian Cup. We will be looking to play on December 28 or 29, about a week before our first game [in the AFC Asian Cup on January 6].
"I cannot tell you the opponents right now, but I am working on it. In November, we are closing in with an away game in Saudi Arabia," the Englishman said during the post-match conference on Sunday night.
"We need these games and the players will also be better at their clubs. We'd then like to get them together early, by December 10, that will help them get used to the situation," he added. World No. 97 India have previously appeared in the Asian Cup thrice. They finished runners-up in the 1964 edition — their best ever finish — but thereafter they failed to get past Round One in 1984 as well as 2011.
For this edition of the tournament they have been drawn into a tough pool, alongside hosts United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Bahrain.
From Dhyan Chand to Balbir Singh Dosanjh: Greatest Indian Hockey Legends