India 0-2 UAE: 4 Positives for India from the game | AFC Asian Cup 2019
After a thumping win over Thailand in the opening game of the group stages, India prepared to face their toughest test yet. UAE were ranked 79 in the FIFA rankings, the highest in Group A, with India at 97. As such, the Men in Blue needed to be at their very best to get something out of this game.
Stephen Constantine named an unchanged team on the night, with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal, Bose, Edathodika, Jhingan and Kotal as the back 4. The midfield consisted of Narzary, Halder, Thapa and Singh, while Sunil Chettri and Kuruniyan spearheaded the attack.
After Thailand's slender 1-0 win over Bahrain, India needed a result from this game to ensure their passage to the knockouts and on the pitch, the men were a picture of composure and determination.
UAE started the stronger of the two teams and pegged India back for the first 10 minutes. However, they failed to break a resolute Indian defense, which allowed the Men in Blue to grow into the game.
Even though they had inferior ball possession, India created more chances in the first half. But they were let down by poor finishing from the forward players. In the 41st minute, UAE punished them for the misses, scoring the opener through Khalfan Mubarak, and ending the half with a 1-0 lead.
India rallied in the second half, created a few more chances and even hit the frame of the goal twice. However, UAE doubled their lead through Mabkhout in the 88th minute and ended the game with the 3 points.
India are still second in the group, courtesy of a better goal difference and as such, hopes of progressing to the knockouts are still alive. Even though India lost the game, they were impressive on the night and here are 5 positives for the Men in Blue from the game
#4 Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's long goal kicks
The goalkeeper could do nothing for the two goals, but his long balls turned out to be a potent weapon as the game grew older. The Indian goalkeeper's ferocious goal kicks almost traversed the length of the field and were aimed right on the UAE back four. It gave the Indian forwards a chance to attack the opposition defence and it put immense pressure on UAE.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's kicks turned out to be the first line of offence for the Indian team and it allowed them to unsettle UAE right from the start of the game. At the end of the first half, right after conceding the goal, his goal kick provided the Men in Blue a brilliant chance to equalize. Gurpreet's goal kick penetrated the UAE defence and reached Sunil Chhetri free on goal. The Indian skipper's snap shot was just wide of the back post.
Even in the second half, the Indian custodian's free kicks repeatedly troubled the opposition defence, as UAE failed to find a solution to their vulnerability.