Indian National Team has been the first team among the 24 participating ones to land in Abu Dhabi, the venue where the Championship is all set to kick-off from January 5, 2019.
The entire process is part of the plan to help the Blue Tigers acclimatize to alien conditions in UAE where India are slated to begin their campaign in the Championship against Thailand on January 6, 2018.
National Coach Stephen Constantine admitted it’s a “huge advantage to drop in early.”
“I think it’s a huge advantage for us to settle in early. It helps us get an idea of the distances, the weather and acclimatize ourselves with everything. The last thing which I wanted was to come in at the last minute, and not having any idea about the food and culture which is very important before such a massive tournament,” Constantine maintained.
“I think it gives us a slight advantage at this time to correct some issues. Moreover, we needed time with the players,” he added.
“AIFF has done a fantastic job to secure this camp in Abu Dhabi where we’ll play our first two matches. Not many other teams can say that they have secured such a home advantage away from home,” the Coach opined.
“Our preparation started way back in October 2017 when we beat Macau in Bengaluru. That victory earned us a qualification spot to the Asian Cup,” the Coach recollected. “We have secured a good hotel in Abu Dhabi, a nice training facility which is almost impossible to get at this moment because most of the other facilities have been booked by others,” Constantine added.
The weather forecast predicts temperatures to stay between 16 to 27 degree Celsius during the course of the tournament.
As part of their preparation, India will play one friendly against Oman on December 27, 2018, and the coach felt it would help the team assess themselves before approaching the Continental championship. Oman is currently ranked 82 in the December FIFA Rankings, 15 places above India who are on 97.