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AFC Asian Cup 2019: India 0-1 Bahrain - 5 Talking Points as the Stephen Constantine era ends in tears

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Top 5 / Top 10
7.52K   //    15 Jan 2019, 00:50 IST

A desolate Sunil Chhetri in what could well be his last tournament for India
A desolate Sunil Chhetri in what could well be his last tournament for
India

India fought. India defended. India gave their lives on the pitch at the Sharjah Stadium. In a cruel twist of fate, Jamal Rashed's 90th-minute penalty consigned the Blue Tigers to a 1-0 loss, and knocked them out of the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

It was a deserved victory for Bahrain, they pushed and pushed. They failed to break down the brickwall that the Indian defence was, until they were lent a helping hand by the unfortunate Pronay Halder, who brought down Hamad Al Shamsan in the box to give Rashed the opportunity to slot home from the penalty spot.

Here are five big points of discussion from a sombre night for Indian Football.


#1 India's tactics were all wrong

It is the most basic cliche in world football that a team never plays for a daw. Most often, setting your team up for a draw only leads to a disastrous ending. Often, it is not as heartbreaking as tonight was for Indian football in the circumstances, but it was a huge mistake from Stephen Constantine to take away the attacking endeavour almost altogether.

India's biggest positive to come out of the first two games was that they always gave their opponents something to think about at both ends of the pitch. The counter-attacking threat coupled with a compact defence is a superb combination.

Tonight, India had only a compact defence. Udanta Singh and Halicharan Narzary were used as auxiliary full-backs. Sunil Chhetri, Ashique Kuruniyan and Jeje Lalpekhlua were only chasing down hopeless hoofs from back to front. In the absence of Anirudh Thapa, India had no one to knit their counter-attacking play together.

Rowllin Borges has his own strengths, but India needed the Thapa ilk of player tonight more than the Borges kind. Despite India's defensive heroics on the night, in the second half, it felt like a matter of time before Bahrain would break them down, given the intensity of continuity of the attacks.

The ball was just boomeranging back into India's defensive third within a matter of seconds, and that was going to tell at some point.

When it did, it was the unfortunate skipper on the night whose indiscretion led to a penalty being awarded, and Rashed made no mistake.

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