Two crucial encounters are set to take place to decide the final standings in Group A of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 featuring hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE), Thailand, Bahrain and India.
The difference between table-toppers UAE and bottom-dwellers Bahrain is just three points and all four teams still have a chance to qualify. The equation for the game between UAE and Thailand is quite simple: a win, for any team, seals their spot in the next round.
But before the match begins, here are five key facts that you should know…
1) The UAE streak
The hosts have been in good form in the competition as they have not tasted defeat in their last three games in the Asian Cup. They have won two and drawn one of those three games and it is their best run since a seven-game unbeaten streak in the competition from 1992’s third-place play-off to 1996 final (four wins and three draws).
2) Only the second Thai(me)!
That was a rather lame attempt at the pun but you probably get it. Thailand will face UAE in what would only be the second time in their history where they will be facing the hosts of an AFC Asian Cup. The last and only time they did so was against Lebanon in 2000 — a match which ended 1-1.
3) The clean sheet record
The UAE’s clean sheet record has not been that great in the AFC Asian Cup this millennium. In fact, their 2-0 win against India ended a streak of nine Asian Cup games without a clean sheet. Such is the rarity of UAE keeping a clean sheet in the competition that the last time they kept two clean sheets in a row was way back in 1996, where they actually finished with a run of four games without conceding.
4) Chance to make history for the War Elephants
The Thailand national team haven’t been very good at the Asian Cup. With the rise of Thai League, things are getting better on the international front as well as their win against Bahrain in the last game was only the second time they won in the Asian Cup. Now, they have the chance to make history by winning two consecutive Asian Cup matches for the first time in their existence.
5) There is always a first time
Despite it being the second-oldest continental competition in the world, the Asian Cup has never before seen Thailand face off against the UAE. So, this is actually the first time the Thai will face the Emiratis.
(Facts via OPTA)