2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers: 'A few silly mistakes cost us the match', says India's coach Stephen Constantine
India lost to Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in their final AFC Asian Cup qualifying match at the Spartak Stadium in Bishkek, thus ending the ‘Blue Tigers’ 13-match unbeaten streak. With India having already qualified for the AFC Asian Cup, Kyrgystan’s win helped them to qualify as the second team from the group.
India faltered from the beginning, conceding a goal within the first two minutes by a strike from Anton Zemlianukhin. India dominated the rest of the first half but failed to convert. On the contrary, the hosts dictated terms in the second half, but it was only in the 72nd minute that they doubled the lead via a strike from Mirlan Murzaev. Although Jeje Lalpekhlua pulled one back in the 87th minute, Kyrgyzstan held on to the lead and grabbed full points from the encounter.
India’s coach Stephen Constantine felt that his team missed easy chances in the first half and were unlucky not score. “We did not get the best start to the game, and when you concede a goal in the first two minutes, it becomes even more difficult. It took us too long t get into the game, we hit the post, and a goal was disallowed. Kyrgyzstan had only one shot at goal in the first half. We were unlucky to be trailing by a goal in half-time,” said the Englishman in the post-match conference.
He added, “Kyrgyzstan was better than us in the second half. We made a few silly mistakes that cost us the match. If we would have scored 10 minutes earlier, it would have been a different game. They gave everything they had, and we are disappointed. I am extremely proud of the fight they gave and we also finished at the top of the group. The job for us is done.”
The ‘Blue Tigers’ will be playing in the AFC Asian Cup after a miss in the 2015 edition. India will have to work on their weaknesses ahead of the all-important AFC Asian Cup which is less than a year away.