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November 20 2018
China vs India: A football match after 21 years
13 October 2018

India and China set to take on each other in a friendly

India and China - with billion-plus populations but laggards in a truly global sport - will go head to head in a football friendly for the first time in 21 years on Saturday with the home team a firm favourite despite poor recent form.

India is playing an international match for the first time in China though the senior sides have faced each other 17 times in the past. China has played in India seven times, all of them in the invitational Nehru Cup.

India has not won a single match of these while China has trumped on 12 occasions; five have ended in draws. The senior teams last played in the 1997 Nehru Cup in Kochi which the ‘Red Dragons’ won 2-1. Saturday’s match here, around 100 km from Shanghai, has attracted a lot of interest among football fans and media.

Bold move

It is a bold move on India’s part to play against China as it has not played in against a top side the recent past in the continent except in the Asian Cup or World Cup qualifiers.

The match, part of preparations for the AFC Asian Cup in January next month, will test India’s ‘real’ progress and its stake as a country hoping to be among the Asian elite.

“We are fully aware that China are a big side in the region. They will be a very difficult side. They want to play possession football, attacking football,” said coach Stephen Constantine. “We will go all out for a win. But if we lose, we will try to find out the positive aspects.”

“We should not afford them much space. At the same time, whenever we find a little room of opportunity, we have to construct the moves and counter them,” regular captain Sunil Chhetri said. For this match, however, defender Sandesh Jhingan win lead the side.

The home team’s 2006 World Cup winning Italian coach Marcello Lippi cannot afford anything other than a win on Saturday with less than three months left for the Asian Cup, which will be his last tournament with the Chinese national side.

 

 

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