Resilient defending from India for 90 minutes was not enough as Bahrain scored from the spot in the 91st minute to storm into the round of 16, leaving behind India in the fourth position. India crashed out of the first round yet again, but this was a much-spirited display from the ‘Blue Tigers’ than the team which were humiliated by heavyweights like Australia, South Korea and similar foes eight years back in Qatar.
A draw would have been enough for India to qualify for the knockout stages. To make things worse, Thailand held the United Arab Emirates to a 1-1 draw and ensured that India could not get past the group stage even as one of the best place third teams.
In spite of the disappointing exit, India still managed to bring out a few positives from the tournament. This has been a great learning curve for India which will help the team and its management rectify its mistakes in the upcoming days.
Let us have a look at the things we learned from the game:
#5 India can be clueless when pushed on the back foot
India did not start the game on a positive note, with Bahrain dictating terms in the first 5 minutes. Anas Edathodika’s injury posed more problems for India while Stephen Constantine brought on Salam Ranjan Singh as a substitute.
It was nightmarish for the back four in the opening moments of the clash, even Gurpreet Singh Sandhu faltered a bit during his saves under the sticks. A similar thing happened in the majority of the second half as well with India failing to get a single shot on target in the entire match.
The notable fact is that India’s attacking line was stagnant during that period. It was disappointing to see that India did not make use of the loose balls to much efficiency to produce a counter attack. The long ball is not always an option for India as we have seen India struggle in aerial balls during their game against UAE and even Thailand.