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Asian Cup draw better this time, says Gurpreet
07 May 2018, 12:34 | Floyd Cook
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With captain Sunil Chetri on stage as part of the draw, India found themselves in Group A of the Asian Cup to be played in United Arab Emirates from January 5 next.
The team coached by Stephen Constantine topped their group consisting of the Kyrgyz Republic, Myanmar and Macau in the third playoff qualification round to earn an entry into the draw from Pot 3. A total of eight venues will be used throughout the competition, with Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City Stadium hosting the final on February 1.
"I think it's a group from where we can qualify to the knockout stage".
The UAE, as virtue of being the host, was top seeds placed in Group A along with India, Thailand and Bahrain.
Iran is Asia's top side in the FIFA World Ranking and were also the first team from the Continent to seal a place in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, confirming their place last June.
Milicic was a member of the management team that masterminded that success, so knows all too well the pressure of delivering as host country. "They will be a hard opponent for the UAE". However, we have to study the opponents very carefully.
"Right now, some of the people think Thailand is going to be easy but it's not". He believes that the sheer number of quality coaches in the ISL and I-League have helped the players.
The last time India participated in the continental tournament, in 2011, they were thrashed by South Korea, Australia and Bahrain, returning home bruised and battered after conceding a barrage of goals.
The AFC President, who made the announcement during the final draw said: "Tonight, we celebrate a new chapter in the glorious history of the Asian Cup here in the UAE". However, having seen the UAE at close quarters during the 2015 tournament, and then again in qualification for this summer's Fifa World Cup, the former Australian global feels they have enough talent to perform well next January.
Undoubtedly ASEAN's best hope though is the defending champion, Australia, who also received a far softer draw than could have been the case.
Asia's most prestigious global football competition will kick-off in the UAE on January 5, 2019.
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