Who said only cricket is popular in this part of the continent? Football frenzy has captured Indians too. The home team is slowly but surely making rapid strides. Expectations are high on Team India as they get ready to play the Asian Cup that will be played in four cities of the United Arab Emirates from 5 January to 1 February.
No doubt, India will be a difficult team to beat in the Asian Cup tournament especially after their recent draws against more fancied China and Oman. India has been clubbed in Group A along side Thailand, Bahrain and hosts UAE. They play their first match Sunday against Thailand. The Stephen Constantine-coached side drew goal-less against China and Oman and lost to Jordan 1-2. China (76th) and Oman (82nd) are ranked higher than India (97th) while Jordan are below a few rungs down at 109th. What is more is skipper Chhetri is set to equal former captain Bhaichung Bhutia’s record of all-time India appearances, during the Asian Cup. He has played 104 international matches so far, only three behind great Bhaichung Bhutia.
Thanks to Indian Super League, a host of international stars have flown down to India to play. Our youngsters watched them in close quarters and learnt a lot. Also, India successfully hosting U-19 World Cup has aroused greater interest in the game. The day is not far off when we see our team playing in FIFA World Cup.