The 'Blue Tigers' started their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign quite brilliantly as they outplayed Thailand 4-1 in their first group stage encounter. That victory over Thailand was the first win for India in the tournament after 55 long years.
Last time, in the year 2011, team India participated in the tournament and finished their campaign at the 16th position. This year, Stephen Constantine's men looked more confident to make it to the Round of 16, after securing all three points in their first game.
The 'Blue Tigers' showcased an outstanding performance against the hosts, UAE in their second group stage fixture but failed to earn a single point from that game as unlucky India went 2-0 down to UAE. Plenty of chances were created by the Indians in that match but they could not manage to utilize a single.
Eight years back on this day on January 14, 2011, team India suffered a 5-2 defeat against Bahrain, in the AFC Asian Cup 2011.
Yesterday, the young guns of India got a perfect chance to retaliate the 2011 defeat, as well as a golden opportunity to create history - qualification into the Round of 16 from the group stage. But a mistake inside the box in the injury time of the second half was enough to break 1.3 billion Indian hearts. Again Bahrain edged India out 1-0, on January 14, 2019, at Sharjah.
India finished their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign with three points from their three group stage matches, securing the last spot in the Group - A.
But what are the major reasons behind this heartbreaking result? Let's have a look at those major three reasons why India messed up a golden opportunity to make the Round of 16.
#3 Overconfidence of playing for a draw against Bahrain
As the 'Blue Tigers' were the second place holder, right after the host nation UAE and Bahrain were at the bottom in the group, it seemed like Sunil Chhetri and boys wanted to make it just a draw against Bahrain to qualify to the Round of 16.
If India could make it at least 0-0 against Bahrain, India would have qualified to the next round as the second-best team from the group as in another group stage fixture, UAE and Thailand finished with the 1-1 result.
Team India even became able to hold Bahrain successfully until it was the 91st minute of the match.
Indian skipper Pronay Halder brought Hamed Alshamsan down inside the penalty box, conceding a late penalty which was enough to give Bahrain their crucial three points. Jamal Rashed hoaxed Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh to score the decisive goal for his side.
Like their previous match against UAE, if the Indians could have utilised those few opportunities they created in the first half, the storyline would have been different.
But yesterday, the strategy of Stephen Constantine went very wrong as it was not to go for the all-out attack.
The mentality of the players was to play a defensive football but the manager forgot the gospel truth, 'offence is the best defence' and the result turned out as a woe for the Indian team.