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India to play historic international friendly in China

Indian national team (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) confirms its senior national team’s participation in the scheduled FIFA October 2018 window for an international friendly against China.

The Indian national team, FIFA ranked 97th (as per June FIFA World Ranking) will travel to Beijing to play against the 75th ranked China national team during the October 8-16, 2018 FIFA window. Though the date for the friendly will be decided in coming days, AIFF has proposed Saturday, October 13, 2018, as the match day.

India and China historically have each other faced 17 times, all on Indian soil – the last being 21 years ago for the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997. However, recently, the India U-16 national team visited China for an invitational four-nation tournament which also included U-16 national teams of Thailand and DPR Korea.

The October international friendly assumes huge importance as it will set the pace for India’s preparatory process for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 in January 2019.

Terming the occasion as ‘historic,’ All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das commented: “China and India are today being seen as the two fastest emerging football markets, globally. We are happy to have come to the conclusion of our month-long discussion with the Chinese FA, and I thank our marketing partners FSDL for their involvement and cooperation.”

“The opportunity presents us with an opportunity not just break the two-decade deadlock, but also provides us with a chance to revive the neighbouring rivalry,” he added.

For the record, India are yet to win a match against China. Off the past 17 matches, 12 have gone in favour of China while rest five were drawn. However, the Indian national team has been on an upsurge over the last couple of years, maintaining an unbeaten run of twelve official matches for a span which extended from June 2016 to November 2017.

National Coach Stephen Constantine expressed satisfaction over 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 UAE 2019.

“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.”

(AIFF Media)