India can qualify for Asian Cup knockout stages: Stephen Constantine

India captain Sunil Chhetri with coach Stephen Constantine

India captain Sunil Chhetri with coach Stephen Constantine

The finals will kick off on January 5 with the final to be played in Abu Dhabi on February 1.

The War Elephants will then face Bahrain on Jan 10 and take on the hosts on Jan 14, the last day of the round-robin battles. I would say everything would depend on our own team.

At the draw in Dubai, India will be represented by skipper Sunil Chhetri.

If they do, the Socceroos will also square off with one of the third-placed nations in the groups where Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam are placed thus setting up potentially another way to construct a regional battle in the second round. They also recorded two wins against Kyrgyz Republic in a pair of friendlies, a 2-1 decision in Bishkek in September 2016 and a 1-0 results at the Rizal Stadium two months later. We have a lot of respect for Jordan as well: we played them in the first phase of the qualifying campaign.

"Thailand are an improved side and they have shown their strength in the qualifiers and the recent King's Cup in Thailand".

With an outstanding generation of talent, a core group of players now with invaluable experience in Asia's leading domestic competition and a wily coach who knows how to navigate his way out of the cut and thrust of tournament play, this is a wonderful opportunity for the Thais to go deep into the latter stages. "They will be a hard opponent for the UAE".

"Right now, some of the people think Thailand is going to be easy but it's not". I think they beat Australia at home if I am not wrong. I am happy we have broken inside 100 but the way ranking works is very, very tricky so I don't give it too much importance.

Having expanded the tournament to 24 teams, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has equally divided them into six groups.

Australia's assistant coach Ante Milicic fancies his side's chances of defending the Asian Cup title.

Saudi Arabia is one of five teams in the expanded tournament that is focused on the World Cup in Russian Federation.

A new trophy and a new ball was also presented as the AFC formally bade farewell to Nike as its technical partner with Japanese-made Molten stepping in as the confederations' new partner beginning with this tournament that will kick off on January 5.

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