‘Group A’ Consists of hosts UAE along with India, Bahrain and Thailand. We take a closer look at all four teams and their chances in the AFC Asian Cup.
The hosts UAE are clearly the favorites to go through to the next round while the other three teams are expected to keenly contest for a place in the knockouts. The newer format of the Asian cup allows four out of six 3rd placed teams to go through to the next round and a win will ensure any of the three teams to go through to the next round.
India under Stephen Constantine may not be attractive to watch but the Englishmen has been getting some great results with the Blue Tigers. India technically are the weakest side in this group and would need to kick above their weight to go through to the next round. Considering recent results against China and Jordan we can have some hopes that Blue Tigers may pull of some surprise results especially against Likes of Thailand and Bahrain.
India will certainly approach these games in a very defensive manner. The Blue tigers will probably defend with 6-7 players and try to play long balls to the wingers on the counter attack. This sort of approach was something that helped Stephen Constantine take India to the Asian Cup but a lot more will be expected if India wants to go through to the next round.
Expected Formation: 4-4-1-1
Key Players: Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Sandhu
United Arab Emirates
Host UAE coached by 2011 AFC Asian Cup winning manager Alberto
Zaccheroni are clear favorites to go through to top the group. One concern for UAE through will be their recent results under Zaccheroni who took over the side in 2017 but his only positive results in the last year have come against Asian sides Oman, Yemen and Laos who are relatively weaker compared to them.
The hosts also lost star midfielder Omar Abdulrahman who is considered as one of best footballers in all of Asia.
Despite all problems around them UAE are an amazing side with great bunch of players and are expected to have a very good outing and even challenge for the Title.
Expected Formation: 4-4-2
Key Players: Ali Mabkhout, Ismail Al Hammadi
Thailand may well be one of dark horses coming into this tournament. The War Elephants have seen some great rise in football over the last few years both at domestic and international level. Their clubs have been doing greatly at the AFC Champions League and getting some great results against top East-Asian sides.
Under Milovan Rajevac they have got some exceptional results in The Kings Cup against top European sides and are unbeaten in their last 8 games. Several of their players Theerathon, Teerasil Dangda and
Songkrasin have been playing in the J-League for the last year and would be very vital for their progress in the competition.
Expected Formation: 4-5-1
Key Players: Songkrasin,Teerasil Dangda
Bahrain had an amazing qualification round where they remained undefeated in all six games. The team managed by Miroslav Soukup recently trashed Tajikistan 5-0 playing some amazing end to end football.
They are a very clinical side in-front of goal and matching them physically would be a tough test for India. The last time Bahrain and India faced each other in 2011 Asian Cup the Blue Tigers were trashed 5-2.
Expected Formation: 4-2-3-1
Key Players: Sayed Saeed, Waleed Al Hayyam.