AFC Asian Cup 2019: Make or break time as UAE battle India


AFC Asian Cup 2019: Make or break time as UAE battle India
UAE players during a training session.

The stadium will be packed to the capacity with passionate Emirati and Indian fans.

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 10 Jan 2019, 8:03 PM

Come Thursday and the biggest-ever AFC Asian Cup is going to get better with the most-anticipated the UAE-India clash set to be played at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The clash is much-awaited one for the fact that Indians form the largest expat population in the UAE - the tournament's host nation. So the stadium will be packed to the capacity with passionate Emirati and Indian fans. This truly will be an 'I was there' moment, especially for the Indian expats who call the UAE their second home. Loyalties will surely be split in this one.
Apart from the bonhomie and bilateral relations at a new peak - factors creating this sensational hype, there's a lot riding on the Cup encounter. The UAE, after 1-1 draw against Bahrain, need maximum points, whereas, India with three points in their kitty sit with slight advantage.
The UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni said everyone in the squad was aware about the need for a positive result in this do-or-die battle as 'The Whites' could ill afford to lose this one. "This is a make-or-break game for us. We will play to win. We will face difficulties but I have confidence in the abilities of my players that they will play a strong game."
Zaccheroni is aware about the attacking prowess India possess in the form of experienced Sunil Chhetri and flamboyant youngster Ashique Kuruniyan.
"India's style is completely different. They rely on counter attacks to score," he said about the Blue Tigers.
Despite India being ranked 97, Zaccheroni said the 79th placed UAE will dare not take the opponent lightly. "We have seen so far in this tournament that there are no easy games. India produced a top performance against Thailand. They played against a strong team but scored many goals. We had held meetings with the players and told them about strengths and weakness of India's game. We need to make few changes in our game in terms of tactics and physical play."
The coach said the UAE aim to clinch the coveted trophy at home and players were all focused to realise that objective with first defeating India.
"We will play with lot of passion and desire to win than we did in our first game. We aim to change our image created after Bahrain game. We know we failed our fans. We want to win this for them. We have enough experience. We want to deliver the best performance. Our main objective is to win the AFC Asian Cup."
The UAE remain undecided about fitness level of Saif Rashid but Ismail Ahmed and Bandar Al Ahbabi are expected to be available for the crucial tie.

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