This is certainly a different Asian Cup for India. Making an appearance after eight years, the Blue Tigers have silenced the critics with their impressive performances in the previous two matches. They have thrashed Thailand 4-1 in their opening match.
They may have ended second best against hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their second match, but the Sunil Chhetri-led team won hearts of everyone for their positive attitudes on the field.
Come tomorrow and India will be facing Bahrain in their last group match. Though mathematically a draw would be enough for them to secure qualification for the next round, the Indian team are targeting no less than a win.
For that, they need to rectify the mistakes they have done over the past two matches. Like Thailand and UAE, Bahrain too will be a tactically superior side and it would take a lot of courage to beat them.
Let us look at the three things which India should do to get a win:
#3 Avoid silly mistakes in defence
Going by the previous two matches, Indian defenders have performed quite well, at least more than what was expected from them.
But against Bahrain, a must-win match for the team, they should be prepared for more challenge as Bahrain boast some of the best-attacking players in the continent.
One of main weakness for this Indian defence is their position while blocking a set-piece. Their frailties were exposed in the match against Thailand when the opponent scored with ease.
Bahrain have more tall players and surely they’ve watched India’s weaknesses. India should try to not to foul within the edge of the box. While for a corner, they should position themselves well to head the ball away.
Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika, the two central defenders will have to take more responsibility.
In the previous match, one silly mistake from Anas cost India the first goal. Also during the play, the gap between Sandesh and Anas was increasing and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was seen asking them to get close to each other.
Sandesh and Anas have not played many matches together in this season. So the usual understanding was sometimes missing from their game. Against players like Mohamed Al-Romaihi, both of them need to work hard on the field.
Concern remains with left-back Subhasish Bose too, who found it difficult to block Khalfan Mubarak when the UAE was attacking from the flanks. Bahrain too have Ali Madan, who is pacy and likes to operate from the flanks. Subhasish have to more cautious in his approach.