India coach Stephen Constantine played down talks of his side’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Qualifiers draw being easy.
India have been clubbed with Kyrgyz Republic, Myanmar and Macau in Group A.
“On paper it looks favourable. It does give us the hope that we have a legitimate chance to qualify from the group,” Constantine.
“I need to take you back to the draw of the World Cup qualifiers where we were drawn with Guam and Turkmenistan and there was a generic feeling all around — ‘no problem, we will have it easy,'” Constantine said.
“Myanmar have made it to the final of the Suzuki Cup and on the back of qualifying on merit to the FIFA U-20 World Cup under their German coach, they are a very difficult team to play at home.”
Constantine explained why it won’t be smooth sailing for India, who have improved their ranking to 129.
Constantine said that the team will assemble in the second week of March to prepare for the Asian Cup qualifiers. India play their first match against Myanmar on March 28.
“The plan is to assemble on the weekend of March 11th or 12th as the players would start to assemble after their respective Hero I-League games. But there would be boys who would be involved in the AFC Cup and we will only have them available some days later.”
Asked whether India would be playing a friendly before the qualifiers, Constantine said, “Given that we are playing an away game first, we want to play an international friendly on our way to Myanmar. It would benefit us to have valuable match practice as the intensity of international football is different to domestic football.”
He added, “Let me reiterate, Myanmar won’t ever be an easy opposition away or even at home.”