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India to step up Asian Cup preparations with China test - Stephen Constantine

India take on China on Saturday as coach Stephen Constantine looks to prepare a team to progress to the knockout stage of the 2019 Asian Cup.

In January, India will take on hosts the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Bahrain in their a second appearance in the continental tournament since 1984. In 2011, the Blue Tigers exited at the group stage but, this time around, Constantine wants more.

"Any group for us was going to be tough and this is the case," Constantine, in his second spell in charge of the team, told ESPN.

"We have to look at it in a positive light and I honestly feel we can cause an upset or two and get out of the group. I believe we can get out of the group.

"It won't be easy of course but on our day we can be difficult and I expect us to get through."

To that end, Saturday's game in Suzhou will give the coach, who has taken the team into the top 100 of FIFA's rankings, an idea of what needs to be done to compete at the Asian Cup.

"We need to get used to playing these types of games if we want to continue to move forward," Constantine added. "China is a big test for us and we look forward to seeing how our young players will meet the challenge."

India are coming off the back of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup, the region's biennial tournament. The team lost the final 2-1 to the Maldives in Bangladesh, though the English coach used the competition as a chance to give some younger players the chance to play some international football.

"It really was about giving the under-23s the opportunity to prove themselves at a senior level and continue to laid foundations for the longer term of the national team," Constantine said.

"As a result of the SAFF we have another 10 players who we feel can step in and play at the senior level so all in all it was a really positive outcome.

"I am sure there were people who questioned the move but going to the final and playing some really good football I think proved my point."

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