India’s opening match in the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers, originally set to take place in Group G, has encountered an unexpected change. The match, scheduled for Wednesday, had to be canceled due to a last-minute withdrawal by Maldives from the tournament. Consequently, the qualifiers now consist of a three-team group, comprising India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the host nation.

India’s new opener will be against China on September 9th, and it will be held at the Dalian Suoyuwan Stadium. The game is set to kick off 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,” stated Head Coach Clifford Miranda.

Despite the unexpected alteration to the schedule, the Indian team’s coach, Igor Štimac, appears to be focusing on the positive aspects of the change. His team will now have a couple of extra days for training in China. However, he also acknowledges the drawback of not having the opportunity to play a warm-up match before facing the host nation. This change will undoubtedly bring new challenges and opportunities for the Indian team as they prepare for their upcoming matches in the qualifiers.

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.


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