football oman

Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine. (IANS file photo)

ABU DHABI - A day prior to playing Oman in a friendly football match scheduled at the Baniyas Stadium here Dec. 26, coach Stephen Constantine stressed "India haven't come here expecting to play easy games."

The match is part of India's preparations for the forthcoming AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. Both the coaches have decided on playing behind closed doors, which means there won't be any telecast of the match.

India begins its campaign in the Asian Cup against Thailand on Jan. 6.

Commenting on the match against Oman, Constantine stated: "It's going to be extremely hard. We have come here to play the big boys of Asia. We played against the likes of Jordan, China. We need to play these sort of games to prepare in the best possible fashion."

Oman are currently ranked 82 as per the December FIFA Rankings, whereas India are at 97. India last played Oman in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 qualifiers twice, with Oman winning on both occasions.

"We were very unlucky to lose the first leg in Bengaluru," Constantine reflected. "That was our first group stage game in the qualifiers. But we are a much improved side now and much younger."

Central midfielder Pronay Halder, who wasn't part of the squad in the first-leg in Bengaluru, complemented his coach saying "we are a much matured side now."

"We have matured a lot since then. Our organization on the field is much better compared to what we were in 2015," he opined.

India have been the first team to land here for the Asian Cup.

"The facilities have been superb and it has been going on according to the plan so far. We have done our homework as well," Constantine said.

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