Indian football coach Stephen Constantine said on Wednesday that the friendly international against China will be an indicator to the team’s progress ahead of next year’s AFC Asian Cup.
The Indian team arrived in Suzhou for the international friendly against 76th ranked China on Saturday.
“China are obviously a good side. They play some good football. Our performance against China will be a great indication of where we are and how far we need to go,” Constantine said.
Defender Pritam Kotal said they need to play friendlies against stronger opponents in order to “tighten their screws”.
“We need to play more games against the stronger teams to tighten the screws before we land in the UAE for the Asian Cup. We are eagerly waiting to give our best in front of the Chinese crowd on 13th,” Kotal said.
The team was greeted by a pleasant temperature of 15 degrees.
The match is slated to be held at the Suzhou City Centre Olympic Stadium in Suzhou City.This is the first time an Indian senior national team is playing China away.
Even as the weather forecast stays bright and sunny, India haven’t ever been able to manage a victory against China in their last 17 outings for far. The last time the two teams met was in the Nehru Cup in 1997.
Kotal is aware of the challenge and maintained that “defenders will have a big role to play”.
“Defenders will have a big role to play when we play China. We communicate with each other in the practice sessions and we have to be at the top of our games on Saturday,” he stated on arrival.
Referring to him missing India’s last away international fixture against Kyrgyz Republic, Kotal felt away fixtures are always “more demanding”.
“It was a sorry case for me to have missed the match against Kyrgyz Republic. An away fixture is always more demanding and I am already feeling the heat to give my 100 percent.”
The 22-member squad:
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Karanjit Singh.
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Sarthak Golui, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhasish Bose, Narayan Das.
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Halicharan Narzary, Ashique Kuruniyan.
FORWARDS: Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary.