Chhetri urges for away games ahead of Asian Cup

The last of Iran's three triumphs in the AFC Asian Cup was in 1976, meaning that it will be 43 years since they last won the title by the time the action in UAE 2019 kicks off in January.

The team coached by Stephen Constantine topped their group consisting of the Kyrgyz Republic, Myanmar and Macau in the third playoff qualification round to earn an entry into the draw from Pot 3.

Held every four years, the Asian Cup will start on January 5 with matches to be held in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah. Even former global Renedy Singh said this was the best draw India could have hoped for and national coach Stephen Constantine expressed hopes of making it past the group stage.

The signing ceremony, which was also attended by Molten President and CEO Kiyofumi Tamiaki, means Molten will supply footballs to some of Asia's most high-profile fixtures including the AFC Asian Cup, the AFC Champions League, AFC Cup, AFC's two flagship futsal events as well as several men's and women's youth events at the national team level.

Sunil Chhetri said Team India will be concentrating on preparing well and hard to put up a fight in the 2019 Asian Cup in UAE. Thailand hosted that tournament with only six teams participating. We are 14th or 15th in Asia, it's very important to stay there and go into the top 10.

"Right now, some of the people think Thailand is going to be easy but it's not".

"I have heard people saying that our group is not hard, but whoever has qualified for the Asian Cup finals, they are all strong and have quality".

The political situation between the pair adds intrigue to Group E, which also features Lebanon and North Korea, but Spanish coach Sanchez believes the 2022 World Cup hosts will be focused on their on-field task. "It is not", he said on the sidelines of an initiative by KIA Motors India to select two school children as official match ball carriers for the upcoming World Cup in Russian Federation.

They reached the Asian Cup for the first time in the last edition, coming bottom of their group after losing to Japan, Iraq, and Jordan.

Arnold will take over from Bert van Marwijk after the World Cup in what will be his second Asian Cup in charge, having led the team in their disappointing 2007 campaign.

  • Tracy Klein