Coming into their last game against Bahrain at the Asian Cup, India had a 10 percent chance of losing the match, given their past performance. The Blue Tigers made it possible to knock themselves out of the tournament.
The 0-1 loss at the Al Sharjah Stadium against Bahrain was not only a shock to the whole country but also dented India’s pride which they earned in the previous two matches.
The team, which earned a reputation with their incisive attacking display, was denied a draw and place in the knock-out rounds.
Jamal Rashed scored the only goal of the match from the spot-kick in the 90th minute to seal the fate for the country, which made history by entering the knock-out of the tournament for the first time.
It was India who had the chance to create it, but they fell short thanks to the negative strategy by Stephen Constantine.
Most of the players are young and may have a chance to shine again at this stage. But sadly, this was probably the last time we have seen Sunil Chhetri in this tournament, as he left the field in tears.
Let us look at the reasons which cost India the game:
#3 Miscommunication regarding Anas’ injury
Barely 90 seconds had gone into the match and not all the spectators in the stadium had taken their seat, Anas Edathodika had started limping on his feet. Looking at his face, one could easily understand the player is reeling in pain.
The word was written on the wall. In no time, Anas was substituted by Salam Ranjan Singh. Bemused Indian spectators were still trying to understand what has transpired on the field. It looked like an old injury just occurred to Anas, who had his left knee heavily strapped coming to the field.
It was a big blow considering the situation of the match. Not only Anas has a good understanding with Sandesh Jhingan, but he has also performed quite well in the last two matches, silencing his criticizers.
India should be lucky that Salam, who has not played enough matches for his club and country in recent times, put up an impressive performance throughout the match.
But the question reverberated in the stadium was, why Anas was allowed to take the field when he was not fully fit?
Certainly, the onus is on the team doctor and the coach, who took the decision. India lost a crucial substitution just 90 seconds into the match, which could’ve led them to more danger.
Also, why Anas did allow himself to be in the starting line-up if he felt something awkward before the match? His football career would’ve been over if something untoward happened within that time.
The way the Indian team handled the situation regarding Anas only shows their inexperience in this tournament.