Know your opponents - Macau
Written by: Pradyumna Tembhekar
The Indian National Team will look to take an unassailable lead in the qualifying group in the build up to the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Top-placed India will look to extend their lead in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifier Group A and put the qualification issue beyond any doubt by winning over bottom-placed Macau in the upcoming qualifier match on September 5, which will take place in the Estadio Campo Desportivo, Also known as the Macau Olympic Complex.
Currently ranked 183 in the latest FIFA World Rankings, The home side comes into this fixture with two successive losses in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. The team lost 1-0 to Kyrgyzstan in the first match in March, and they were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by Myanmar in the second round of qualifier fixtures in June. Macau were going to play their International Friendly against Malaysia on 25th August but was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances, thereby forcing them to play the qualifier without a warm up match.
The squad is looking for its first win in 2017, with its last victory coming in the AFC Solidarity Cup Semi final against Brunei winning 4-3 on penalties after ending 1-1 in regulation plus extra time.
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Macau eventually lost the Solidarity Cup final, losing 1-0 to Nepal. Since then It has not been a good journey for the Macanese.
That is the best ever achievement of the Macau National Team since its first International appearance which dates back to 1949. The team has not qualified in any World Cup qualifiers, or Asian Cup or the East Asian Cup, where they reached the preliminary stages.Macau had qualified for the 2016 AFC Challenge Cup but were knocked out in the first round.
What’s More, the Home team is yet to score a goal in 2017 and the goal drought has been the major issue for Macau. This is the area which head coach Chan Hiu Ming would like to address as soon as possible.
Chang Hui Ming who has only taken the helm of the Macau national team in July this year is a former Hong Kong Futsal internal and also a former member of the Hong Kong Hockey representative team. During his playing days, he has played for some of the top clubs in the Chinese territory including Kitchee, Double Flower FA, Eastern, Wong Tai Sin and Derico for years.
Before joining up with Macau he has managed the Hong Kong Youth Representative team as well as clubs like Tai Po, Workable, Eastern, and HK Pagasus. He is also a coaching and fitness instructor for the Asian Football Confederation and FIFA.
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Macau captain Cheang Cheng Leong has the highest number of appearances for the national team. The 33-year-old veteran will look to use his experience against the rejuvenated Indian team after their Hero Tri Nation Series Victory. The midfielder is known to have precise passing ability combined with physical strength, which suits a typical defensive midfielder. He is not known for scoring goals but his creative ability is crucial in creating chances to score goals.
Another player to watch out for is their forward Leong Ka Hang. The player has scored 10 international goals in just 23 appearances. The 24-year-old was a part of the U-23 Macau squad and netted 5 goals in just 9 appearances. He surely can turn out to be a threatening force in the Macanese attack, given the rate in which the striker is scoring goals. The goal drought in 2017 adds up to the cause of scoring goals, and he might be the man of the moment for the home side facing a side who has immensely improved in the defensive aspect.
The striker would love to make an impact against India at home
A majority of the squad does not have experience playing in domestic leagues outside Macau, excluding defender Chan Man, who plies his trade in the third tier Portuguese domestic league outfit S.C.Olhanense. Leong Ka Hang plays for Hong Kong Pegasus in the Hong Kong Premier League. Other than them, none of the current national team players play elsewhere, but get regular game time in Liga de Elite, the domestic league of Macau.
PREVIOUS HEAD-TO-HEAD ENCOUNTERS:
The Indian National Team will play against Macau for the first time ever. There has not been any head to head encounter before this. Given the recent results in 2017 and the lack of wins along with lack of goals can compel the Macanese to play better and fight for a better result at the Macau Olympic Complex, hoping to get off the mark in the points table and potentially fight for a place in the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Since this is the lowest ranked side in the group, India should get past the team easily as far as statistics are concerned. But considering the fact that the Macau team has not even won a single international match so far in 2017 can compel the home side to perform well above their own expectations, and can cause a potential upset in the upcoming match.
Published: Fri Sep 01, 2017 07:31 PM IST