ABU DHABI: India captain Sunil Chhetri backs the squad’s young core to play out of their skins and test their Asian Cup opponents when they kick-start their campaign on Sunday.
Coach Stephen Constantine has selected a 23-man squad whose average age is below 25 as India look to improve on their last appearance in 2011 when they were knocked out in the group stage.
“Apart from me and Gurpreet (Singh), it’s a first-time experience for all else,” Chhetri told the All India Football Federation website. “Everyone is ready to grab this opportunity.
“I can assure you that it won’t be an easy job for other teams to face us.
“We are a team who hate to lose, and we have proven it in recent times. We are working as per the plan.”
India face Thailand in their Group A opener in Abu Dhabi on Sunday before taking on hosts UAE (Jan. 10) and Bahrain (Jan. 14).
“At the moment, our sole focus is on our opening fixture, the game against Thailand,” Chhetri said. “We know that Thailand will be a very tough opponent and we are concentrating only on them.
“We are not looking (at) anything beyond that. There are matches against UAE and Bahrain lined up but we will think about them only when they come.”