India Exit Asian Cup match Highlights:
- India lost their third and final Group A match 1-0
- With the defeat, they bowed out of the tournament with a solitary win that gave them three points to see them end their campaign right at the bottom of Group A
- The early exit sees India extend their wait for a place in the knock-out stages of the tournament. They had last progressed to the round of 16 way back in 1964
Coming back to India Exit Asian Cup, what had started off so promising for the country with a floundering 4-1 comprehensive defeat against Thailand ended in bitter disappointment with the Indian football team once again making an early exit from the Asian Cup. Touted to be their best chance in years of making it out of the group stages, India faltered in their efforts at their fourth appearance in the showpiece tournament after they lost their third and final group stage encounter against Bahrain 1-0 to not only extend their wait of making the round of 16 but also end their campaign right at the bottom of their group with just 3 points, the lowest accumulated by any of the sides in the group.
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India had nobody but themselves to blame for this fiasco. With everything in their own hands, the country managed to churn out their worst performance at the event to record their second defeat of the tournament. It was a tepid, sloppy, shoddy and dire display from the players, who came out with an absolutely comical and quizzical game plan to just sit back and defend for the entirety of the encounter.
As Thailand went behind in their encounter in the first half of their match, India knew that a draw would be more than enough for them to progress to the ensuing round. And that is precisely what they played for the entire night, more than happy to sit in their own half and just try to keep the opposition out for the full 90 minutes to take home the one point.
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Unfortunately for them, the negative tactics failed to pay any dividends with the lacklustre defence at the disposal of the side. They were continuously battered by the other side, paying the punishment of their own mistakes as the backline time and time again was caught out of position with defenders drifting out of their spots, letting in massive gaps at the back for the opponents to exploit. It was an absolutely tainted display from the Indian midfield and defence with no cohesion, organisation, communication and composure being shown by the defensive players.
Given the country’s display in the match, it was only a matter of time before they went onto concedes. Lucky to keep the scoreboard intact till the 90th minute, fortune finally caught up with them in the dying moments of the match with the side giving away a penalty that was converted to ring the scoreboard against them and with it put the final nail in their hopes of making it through to the next round.
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Following the debacle, India’s head coach left his position. Unfortunately for the country, it was a decision that came too late for the side with the team management coming under heat for the way the crucial encounter was approached by the Indian side.
India’s cringe-worthy showing at the tournament is not one that is all that surprising though. While the side was billed by many to at least progress to the round of 16, there were clear gaping holes in this side far before the tournament had begun. They had failed to score in three consecutive matches prior to the Asian Cup with a lack of proper attacking players and a well-executed attacking strategy clearly visible.
Despite drawing and been on an unbeaten run of 13 matches, before they took to the Asian Cup, India’s showings were far from convincing. Their draws against the bigger sides were the by-products more of luck rather than inspired performances with the side getting battered in each of them, lucky to come away with a result owing to the other side’s mistakes or misfortune rather than their own efforts.
At the back also, there were no attempts made to paper over cracks that just fell apart in the Asian Cup. With the tournament behind us what this team needs is a massive overhaul. Lagging and underperforming players need to be booted out and a new coach with a proper, dependable game plan at his hands needs to be brought in if Indian football is to take the right path of development.
Asian Cup Final Group A Standings: