Asian Cup 2019: Need to Regroup & Win against Bahrain, says India coach Stephen Constantine
The morning after the Indian national football team went down to hosts United Arab Emirates 2-0 in their second Group A match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, Head Coach Stephen Constantine felt that the team now “needs to get ready for the next game” against Bahrain.
India play Bahrain in their final Group A encounter in Sharjah on January 14 at 9.30 pm IST. A win or a draw will assure India of a spot in the Round of 16.
“We have to pick ourselves up and get ready for the next game. We need to aim for a win and get something from that game. Hopefully, we can get the result to qualify,” Constantine said.
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Prolific striker Sunil Chhetri also echoed Constantine’s words. “We are still in the running. We are ready to face Bahrain. As a team, we are united. We are ready to fight. That's our game plan against Bahrain,” Chhetri said.
Against India, the Indians muffed some gifted opportunities, hit the bar twice and eventually went down 0-2.
A miscommunication between defender Anas Edathodika and Sandesh Jhingan saw UAE's Ali Mabkhout pounce on the ball and set up Khalfan Mubarak for the first goal in the 41st minute. Then, as the Indians were chasing, Mabkhout got behind Pritam Kotal and turned in a neat finish to seal the three points for UAE.
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India are second in Group A with three points in two games. They edge Thailand, also on 3 points, through their better head-to-head record. UAE are first on four points while Bahrain are last with just one point.
Referring back to the match, Constantine explained: “I said to the boys you did not lose this game. You have shown what you are capable of. Even they (UAE players) were surprised and did not believe that we were this good.
“We are only going to get better with this kind of games. The team has an average age of 25. The players will get only better from here. We had four clear chances to score but UAE scored with the half chance they had,” he maintained.
Skipper Chhetri added: “It was a tight game. If we could have taken our chances it could have been different. UAE are a good side, and they converted their chances.”