New Delhi: India football team head coach Stephen Constantine is upbeat about his side's international friendly against China next month, saying a match against a strong side would help them prepare well for next year's Asian Cup.
India are scheduled to clash with China in an international friendly on 13 October at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium at Suzhou City, Jiangsu province.
"China are a strong team and the match will be a tough test for us. But we need to play these sort of games right now. Getting to play under pressure is important and an away fixture in China is exactly the kind of game we need," Constantine said
"Hopefully, everyone stays free from injury as it's going to be an important game for the build-up to the AFC Asian Cup in January," he added.
This is the first time ever that an Indian senior national team will be travelling to China. The two nations have till now faced 17 times, all on Indian soil — the last being 21 years ago for the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997.
India are yet to win a match against China. Out of the past 17 matches, 12 have gone in favour of China while the remaining five were drawn.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das said that they are looking forward to a "long bilateral footballing relationship with China".
"Globally, India and China are now being looked up to as two of the fastest emerging football markets. The match will usher in a new era in Asian football as this is the first-time ever that the Indian national team will be travelling to play in China. We look forward to a long term bilateral footballing relationship with China in near future," he said.
"Playing against China in China is a perfect way to gear up for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. China are a supremely talented side and it will provide us an opportunity to further gauge ourselves where we stand prior to the Continental Championships."
India are currently ranked 97 in the September FIFA Rankings while China are placed 76th.
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Updated Date: Sep 23, 2018 18:21:51 IST