India’s opening encounter in the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Group G, which was scheduled to be played on Wednesday has been cancelled after Maldives made a last-minute withdrawal from the tournament. The qualifiers has now been reduced to a three-team group featuring India, UAE and hosts.
India will now play its opener against China on September 9, at the Dalian Suoyuwan Stadium, with the game scheduled to start at 5:05 PM IST.
“Nothing changes for us; we have to do the same things that we would have done with the Maldives. We still have to do our best and play to our maximum potential,” said Head Coach Clifford Miranda.
Miranda opted to look at the positive side of the change, with his side getting a couple of extra days of training in China but also recognised the drawback of not getting to play a game before facing the host.
“The good part is that we get a few days of training together as a complete team. Also, the boys will get time to rest and recover, both physically and mentally, after an extremely long and tiring journey to China.
“Playing against the Maldives would’ve provided us a good opportunity to find our rhythm before facing China and UAE. Let’s face it, among the three, the Maldives were the least dangerous opponents and would’ve been a good starting point for the team to prepare for the other two,” he added.