India Prepares for the Asian Cup
In Indian sports, cricket is king, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t fans of the world’s most popular sport – football. Soccer is still a relatively small sport across the country, but in some areas, especially the south and east of India, it is growing by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, Indian soccer fans did not have a chance to cheer on their national team at this year’s World Cup, but another tournament is coming that will give them that chance – the Asian Cup.
The Asian Cup is the official continental football tournament for all of Asia. Bringing together teams from across the continent to face off in Qatar, it is a chance to see widely contrasting styles on display. Middle Eastern powerhouses like Saudi Arabia, who made it to four straight World Cups, face off against strong East Asian sides like Japan and South Korea. India is not considered one of the strongest teams there, but with a mostly domestically based team, they have the advantage of the players knowing each other very well, and at a tournament like this, anything can happen.
India’s best Asian Cup result so far was in 1964, when they shocked the fans by placing second. Along the way, they beat both South Korea and Hong Kong, led by top scorer Inder Singh. This is only the second Cup that India have qualified for since that achievement, and so even qualifying for the finals is a major step up from recent years.
India’s Asian Cup fixtures are as follows. Their tournament opens on January 10th against Australia (who joined the Asian confederation just recently). India also plays Bahrain on January 14th and South Korea on January 18th. It is a tough group, with two World Cup sides and one that just barely missed the tournament, so any positive result will be a real achievement for the Indian side.
Follow along as the tournament progresses with our partner site, World Cup Blog, who will be covering every day of the action from the kickoff on January 7th to the final match on Jan. 29th. Put your support behind India, and who knows what can happen?