Aron Wright - May 30, 2018
India vs Chinese Taipei
Intercontinental Cup 2018
Date: Friday, 1st June 2018
Kick-off at 15:30 UK/ 16:30 CET
Venue: Mumbai Football Arena (Mumbai).
Far away from the World Cup favor, India host Chinese Taipei in the opening match of a friendly tournament as part of their preparations for Asia Cup 2019. The mini-tournament also features Kenya and New Zealand who are set to play against each other in the very next day.
India booked their place in Asia Cup for a second time in three years. This was the first time they achieve this going through proper qualifying rounds and did it in style by winning the group ahead of Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar.
This is no surprise considering the Indian football has been in a green patch since 2016. Before losing their final group game at Turkmenistan 1-2, the men Blue Tigers were unbeaten in 12 straight games with 10 wins and 2 draws. At home, they are unbeaten in the last 8 and saw some big victories over Laos (6-1), Puerto Rico (4-1) and Macau (4-1). The results helped the team to move up the FIFA rankings, from 173rd in 2015 to 97.
Chinese Taipei were unlucky to miss out on a place in the Asia Cup despite putting up a brave fight. They were in a tough pool consisting of Bahrain, Turkmenistan and Singapore and missed the top two spots by a meagre 1 point.
Taipei are coming on the back of some form as well and they walk into Friday’s game on the back of a 4 match winning streak. However, the team have a poor record while playing outside their home country, 1 win from last 6, drew 1 and lost 4.
There has been 8 meetings overall between the two sides in all competitions, India lead the h2h with 4 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses.
Also, India are unbeaten in the last 5 meetings with Taipei with 3 wins and 2 draws.
Stephen Constantine, India’s head coach has named a full-strength squad for the competition. The likes of Sunil Chetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua has been prolific in front of the goal for the respective clubs and will be a real test for the Taiwanese defense. Their weakest area is the defense, mainly due to individual player errors.
Chinese Taipei are bringing an inexperienced side and there are 6 uncapped players. Therefore, we cannot expect a similar fight from them as seen in the Asia Cup qualifying rounds. Ultimately, this could tip the balance in favour of the hosts, who usually manage to give the visiting teams the run for their money.