New Delhi: The Indian football team is set to play international friendlies against higher-ranked Saudi Arabia and China in the run-up to next year’s AFC Asian Cup, according to a top official of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The 2019 Asian Cup will be held in January next year and India are being clubbed with hosts UAE, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A of the continental showpiece.
Talks with both the federations are in advanced stages, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told this agency Monday. “We are in talks with them and it’s almost 90 percent. We are trying to arrange one home and one away game around October-November,” Das added.
Saudi Arabia, who are currently in Russia participating in the ongoing FIFA world Cup are currently ranked 67th, while China are placed 75th. India are ranked 97th in the FIFA charts.
The top AIFF official said they are also looking to arrange matches for the national team keeping in line with FIFA’s changed ranking system.
This is India’s fourth qualification in the Asian Cup and the continental championship will be held across eight stadia in four cities in the UAE — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain. Teams in a group will play each other once and the top two from each group will qualify for the Round of 16 along with the best four third-placed teams.