Confident India start favourites

05-09-2017
DH

India have won both the games in the qualifiers so far, beating Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan, and set on top of Group A with six points. Meanwhile, the Macau side is languishing at the bottom with a point and are still looking for their first win of the campaign.

While Stephen Constantine’s men will look to continue their winning run in the third round qualifying phase of UAE 2019, the 183rd-ranked Macau, on the other hand, will hope to revive their fortunes at the Macau Olympic Complex.

The 96th-ranked India are having a fruitful year in terms of both FIFA rankings and number of wins, and September is their fifth straight month inside the FIFA top 100.

It’s been more than 17 months since India last lost an away game. Their last defeat away from home was against Iran in a 2018 World Cup qualifier. Since then, the Sunil Chhetri-led side have beaten Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar on the road. “2019 (Asian Cup) isn’t far and we have to be there. I feel Macau were a bit unlucky against the Kyrgyz Republic. But we are here to play our game and we need to concentrate on ourselves,” Constantine said.

“It’s true that we are at the top of the table at the moment but we need to work harder if we are to stay there.”

There’s intense competition among players for a berth in the playing XI, leading to a strong bench strength. “It’s not about who plays on the field. We all are playing for a cause. It’s Mission Macau,” Constantine gestured with his clenched fists.

Macau have conceded five goals in their two third round group stage matches so far, against Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar. But India skipper Chhetri added, “We are a confident group. We are confident of our abilities. But we are not judging Macau by what happened to them in their last two matches. It’s a fresh match, and we start afresh.”

As far as Macau are concerned, they are going through a tough phase. After Tam Lao San called it quits in July, technical director of the Macau Football Association, Chan Hiu Ming took the dual responsibility.

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