After more than three years of qualifying suspense, Asia's best 24 teams finally discovered their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Group Stage challengers on Friday in a grand spectacle at the UAE's iconic Burj Khalifa.
"The players are very professional and we're going to think only about the football", he said. "We have always been a force to be reckoned with in the AFC Asian Cup but the recent results give me confidence that we will win the title for the fourth time", said Daei. India's opening match is against Thailand as UAE and Bahrain will face each other in the tournament opener.
The prolific striker's remarks make sense as India has done badly against the continent's top opponents away from home during the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign, which preceded the Asian Cup qualification rounds.
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"We're going to look to now do well away from Australia, away from home with different tests and challenges but it's one we're definitely looking forward to and will be well prepared for".
The next Asian Cup is the first to feature 24 teams. Even former global Renedy Singh said this was the best draw India could have hoped for and national coach Stephen Constantine expressed hopes of making it past the group stage.
"If you say it can be easier because we are doing well that can be a valid point. I could not have asked for anything more". He believes that the sheer number of quality coaches in the ISL and I-League have helped the players.
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Bengaluru FC, established in 2013, are now in a hard position to qualify for the knock-out round of AFC Cup after losing 0-2 to New Radiants of Maldives in Male in a group match.
Shaikh Salman said: "Since 1956 we have had the same trophy and in keeping with the new and exciting future of the competition, the AFC chose to commission a new trophy, one that captures the excitement and drama of the tournament ahead".
India have had a brilliant run over the past two years, going on a 13-match unbeaten run. I am happy we have broken inside 100 but the way ranking works is very, very tricky so I don't give it too much importance. But then, this time, we have UAE, Thailand and Bahrain - all good sides.
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