Azkals drawn fairly in their Asian Cup debut

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. "I won't say it's an easy group but we have the ability to win against some of these teams and on our day, we can beat majority", Constantine, who attended the draw along with team manager Shanmugam Venkatesh, said. "What we are facing (in Asian Cup) are the best in Asia", Chhetri added.

The UAE will meet Thailand, India and Bahrain. "The AFC Asian Cup gives us the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best of Asia and play against players who many of whom play in many a Premier League across Europe, and other parts of the world".

"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".

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Much will be expected of the UAE, who host the tournament for only the second time in their history, despite a relatively modest start to 2011 Asian Cup-winner Alberto Zaccheroni's tenure. "We know we will have to beat the best to get to the top and that's what we will do". They are competing with the best in Asia. 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.

"Right now, some of the people think Thailand is going to be easy but it's not". Make sure you behave and have a vision in life, all the kids here. Two kids are going to official ball carriers in the World Cup, one of the matches will be Brazil vs Costa Rica and the other Panama vs Belgium.

Four-time champions Japan take on Uzbekistan, Oman and Turkmenistan in Goup F while China's hopes of a first-ever Asian Cup title will hinge on advancing from Group C, which also features South Korea, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines. "What we have to deal with is a much bigger stage and it will not help by what we have done before", he said. But then, this time, we have UAE, Thailand and Bahrain - all good sides. But I don't give too much importance to Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings.

  • Megan Austin