May 20, 2018

Thais upbeat for Asian Cup last 16 stage

07 May 2018, 12:34 | Rufus Hill

Azkals drawn fairly in their Asian Cup debut

AFC Asian Cup Draw : As It Happened

The 2019 Asian Cup will be played at eight venues in four cities in the UAE - Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain - in a tournament that will run from January 5 to February 1.

India captain Sunil Chhetri, Iranian legend Ali Daei, iconic Chinese player Sun Jihai and Philippines' star Philip James Younghusband coordinated the picks for the four respective pots as they helped AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John conduct the draw.

The AFC President added: "I have no doubt that the UAE, one of the Continent's most dynamic and visionary countries, will be the flawless stage for this historic tournament".

The tough draw came two days after the Azkals were placed in Group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup alongside defending champion Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and victor of the qualification round playoff between Timor Leste and Brunei. "It's good to play matches before the Asian Cup, especially against teams like South Africa and New Zealand, who have World Cup experience. What we are facing (in Asian Cup) are the best in Asia", Chhetri added.

If they were to emerge on top of Group A they would then be paired with the third-placed finisher from one of the groups, where both the Philippines and Vietnam reside thus potentially setting up an all-Southeast Asian clash in the second round which would be huge for the region.

Milicic was a member of the management team that masterminded that success, so knows all too well the pressure of delivering as host country. I think they beat Australia at home if I am not wrong. However, we have to study the opponents very carefully. "Obviously it will not be easy but I think there are possibilities to qualify from this group". "It is not", Chhetri said on the sidelines of an initiative by KIA Motors India to select two school children as official match ball carriers for the upcoming World Cup in Russian Federation.

The next Asian Cup is the first to feature 24 teams. 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.

The Philippine Azkals have a tough group waiting for them when they begin their historic first ever AFC Asian Cup campaign in early 2019.

The tournament begins on January 5.

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