Vientiane (Laos), June 1 (IANS) India face a stern test against Laos in the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup qualifiers here on Thursday.
To stay in contention for a berth in the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates, the Stephen Constantine-coached side must ensure they come out victorious at any cost.
However, the mood in the team is anything but buoyant as at injury has made at least 10 players unavailable.
“A number of our key players are unfortunately injured. In fact, in our last practice session, we lost another promising youngster who might have started. But there’s no point looking back and crying. We are ready with what we have,” head coach Stephen Constantine said at the pre-match press conference, according to a release.
“Every team plays to win. We will play hard. Some of our players may be playing their first international match but I believe in their abilities,” the Briton added.
Captain Sunil Chhetri said that their opponents “are a good side.”
“Some of my team-mates have been in Laos before but for me this is the first time. 7-8 players of Laos Toyota FC played against Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup. The first time, they won 2-1; the second time, we won 2-1. It will not be an easy game,” Chhetri said.
“We look forward to take as much information from the coach and give our best on the field.”
Constantine also mentioned about the misleading trend to “judge teams by their rankings.” India are currently ranked 162, 14 places higher than Laos.
“There’s a tendency to judge teams by rankings. But we know that Laos have some good players whom we watched in AFC Cup against Bengaluru FC. On top of that they would be playing at home. So we expect it to be difficult,” he added.
Laos head coach Valakone Phomphukdy admitted playing at home serves as an advantage.
“We have had some two weeks’ preparation for this match. Playing at home serves as an advantage. Some of our players have had the experience of playing against Bengaluru FC,” Phomphukdy said.