New Delhi [India], Sep 23 (ANI): The Indian national football team are all set to play their maiden international friendly match against China on October 13.
The match assumes huge importance as it will set the pace for India's preparatory process for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup which is scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Reflecting on the match, General Secretary of the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) Kushal Das said that they are looking forward to a long-term bilateral football relation with China.
He further stated that since China is a supremely talented side, it would help the Indian players to gauge themselves.
"Globally India and China are now being looked up to as two of the fastest emerging Football markets. The match will usher in a new era in Asian Football as this is the first time ever that the Indian National Team will be travelling to play in China. We look forward to a long-term bilateral footballing relationship with China in near future," Das said.
"Playing against China in China is a perfect way to gear up for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. China are a supremely talented side and it will provide us an opportunity to further gauge ourselves where we stand prior to the Continental Championships," he added.
This is the first time ever that an Indian senior national team will be travelling to China. The two nations have faced each other 17 times till now, all on Indian soil, with the last being 21 years ago for the Nehru Cup in Kochi in 1997.
India are yet to win a match against China as of the past 17 matches, 12 have gone in favour of China while rest five were drawn.
National coach Stephen Constantine believes that India need such games as China are a tough team and they would definitely test the abilities of the Indian side.
"China are a strong team and the match will be a tough test for us. But we need to play these sort of game right now. Getting to play under pressure is important and an away fixture in China is exactly the kind of game we need," Constantine said.
"Hopefully everyone stays free from injury as it's going to be an important game for the build-up to the AFC Asian Cup in January," he added.
Earlier this year, the India U-16 national team had visited China for an invitational four-nation tournament as a part of their preparation for the ongoing AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018.
While India are currently ranked 97th in the FIFA Rankings, China are placed at 76th position. (ANI)