Dalian (China), Sep 5 (PTI) India’s opening match in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers, scheduled to be played on Wednesday, has been cancelled following Maldives’ withdrawal from the tournament.
The meet has been reduced to a three-team group featuring India, UAE and the hosts China.
India will now play their opening fixture against China on September 9 in Dalian Suoyuwan Stadium.
Head coach Clifford Miranda maintained that his team’s focus remained the same despite the change in schedule.
“Nothing changes for us; we have to do the same things that we would have done with the Maldives. We still have to do our best and play to our maximum potential,” said Miranda.
Focussing on the positive side, Miranda was pleased with a couple of extra days of training in China but also recognised the drawback of not getting to play a game before facing the hosts.
He said, “The good part is that we get a few days of training together as a complete team. Also, the boys will get time to rest and recover, both physically and mentally, after an extremely long and tiring journey to China.
“Playing against the Maldives would’ve provided us a good opportunity to find our rhythm before facing China and UAE. Let’s face it, among the three, the Maldives were the least dangerous opponents and would’ve been a good starting point for the team to prepare for the other two,” he said.
Looking forward, Miranda said the main objective remains the same despite the Maldives’ withdrawal.
“The group probably gets a little tougher but we had to play China and UAE anyway. So our overall objective is still the same. We will give our best to try and qualify for the U23 Asian Cup.”
Source: PTI News