India’s opening tie in the AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifiers was canceled after Maldives’s last-minute withdrawal

Maldives withdrew their name in the last minute from the AFC U23 Asian Cup as India's opening tie got canceled.
Image - AIFF
Image - AIFF

India will now play their opening fixture of the AFC U23 Asian Cup against China PR on September 9, 2023, in Dalian Suoyuwan Stadium at 5:05 PM IST. Now it has been reduced to a three-team group featuring India, UAE, and hosts China PR. Head Coach Clifford Miranda mentioned that his team's focus remained the same despite the change in schedule.

"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 Clifford Miranda.

He further said, "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.

The only drawback is, India will not get a match before facing the hosts which will definitely be the most difficult game. Miranda clearly said the main objective remains the same with the Maldives' withdrawal. "The group probably gets a little tougher but we had to play China and UAE anyway. So our overall objective is still the same. We will give our best to try and qualify for the AFC U23 Asian Cup."

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