India out to exorcise past Ghosts

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Jan 2019 10:14:52




INDIA enter the biggest ever Asian Cup, starting here Saturday, hoping to exorcise the ghosts of a disastrous outing in 2011 and using it as a stepping stone to realise the dream of making the 2026 World Cup.

The Asian Football Confederation’s continental showpiece, which has seen an increase in the number of finalists from 16 to 24, kicks off with hosts United Arab Emirates taking on Bahrain in a Group A fixture at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.

India, placed in the same group as the host nation, will begin their campaign with a game against Thailand at the Al Nahyan Stadium, the home ground of Al Wahda club, on Sunday. The Blue Tigers last participated in the tournament eight years ago, which ended with a forgettable group stage exit following heavy defeats at the hands regional powerhouses Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.

Son-spurred Koreans face Samurai threat: WHILE street-wise South Korea pack a harder punch, former Japan coach Philippe Troussier has tipped the Blue Samurai to push their fierce rivals all the way at the Asian Cup.

“Japan have one of the best teams in the competition on paper,” the Frenchman told AFP before hosts United Arab Emirates meet Bahrain in Saturday’s opening match.“Of course teams like South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia have the same ambition, but Japan has the potential to win the title.”


Bundesliga stars wish Indian team good luck



THE Indian football team received good wishes from German Bundesliga stars, including FIFA World Cup final match-winner Mario Goetze and the legendary Lothar Matthaus, ahead of Sunday’s AFC Asian Cup campaign-opener. India kick off with a Group A game against Thailand.

Borussia Dortmund forward Mario Gotze, S V Werder Bremen great and one of Bundesliga’s all-time leading foreign goal scorers Claudio Pizarro, Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Yann Sommer, R B Leipzig’s Yimo Werner and Matthaus came together to wish the Indian team in a video shared by Bundesliga on their facebook page.