The Indian men's national team are set to play an international friendly against Oman on December 27, 2018, in Abu Dhabi as part of their preparation for the forthcoming AFC Asian Cup 2019 in UAE.
As per the October FIFA Rankings, Oman are currently ranked 84th in comparison to India, who are in the 97thspot. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Mr Kushal Das said it’s pertinent the national team plays 'stronger opposition' in their quest to prepare better for the Asian Cup.
"Oman are a very strong team. We were drawn against them in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers and are aware of their quality and strength. It will be the perfect test for our boys as they gear up for the Asian Cup," said Mr Das.
"I need to thank the Oman Football Federation for agreeing to play the match in Abu Dhabi," he added.
Head coach Stephen Constantine highlighted the need to strike a rhythm before the upcoming tournament and said, "It's now a question of trying to establish a rhythm and making sure we all know what we have to do. In our last game against Jordan, the circumstances were exceptional and that was a good learning experience for all the players."
Constantine further explained that Oman will be very similar to Bahrain and UAE, both of whom India will face in the group stage of AFC Asian Cup. "Oman will be in some ways very similar to Bahrain and UAE, which is why we wanted to play them so that we can get a good idea of what we are going to face in the group stages," he said.
India last played Oman in the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers (in 2015) and lost 1-2 in Bengaluru and 0-4 in Muscat. Constantine, however, said that the team is a very different outfit now.
"After three years, we are a completely different team and I believe we are getting better. It should be a great game for us," he mentioned.
India will play Thailand in their first match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the Al Nahyan Stadium on January 6, 2019.