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AFC Asian Cup 2019: Bahrain's Miroslav Soukup - We know India's strengths and weaknesses

7:59 PM IST 13/01/19
Miroslav Soukup Bahrain Asian Cup 2019
The Czech feels India will have the upper hand going into the game, not necessarily needing a win to qualify into the knockouts...

All four teams in Group A of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 remain in contention of securing a Round-of-16 berth going into the final matchday. However, Bahrain remains the only team without a win and they come up against India at the Al-Sharjah Stadium on Monday.

After a 1-1 draw against hosts UAE, the Gulf side were handed a narrow 1-0 defeat by Thailand, leaving them with just a point and at the bottom of the group. Head coach Miroslav Soukup remained optimistic on his side's chances of qualification.

"We must be ready. Everyone in our team knows that we now have only one way to qualify. We must win the game. Our team is ready to do the maximum for a win. We lost against Thailand. I hope everyone in our teams knows that we must play better.

"Against Thailand, if you pick up the stats, we were stronger in every department of the field barring the box. Inside the box, Thailand were stronger. We want to be stronger inside the box tomorrow (Monday).

"For India, this game is easier. Because even if India lose 1-0, they can easily qualify with three points", he argued.

Questions were raised on his side's profligacy upfront and the former Yemen manager hoped his forwards would have a good day in office against the Blue Tigers. He said, "We must trust our strikers to have a good day tomorrow. Our strikers have very good quality. We can score the goals. The player beside me (Jamal Rashed, sat next to him in the media conference), he can also score goals. I hope he helps in offensive situations. We hope that we can score more than before."

When asked about the mood in the camp, the Czech manager replied, "The Asian Cup is a short tournament of three weeks. We need to have a lucky day sometimes. In the first game, no penalty. The second game, no penalty (from the free kick). To win the game, we must do more than our opponents. If you go on the pitch, you can decide if you are a lion or a chicken. You need to be a lion."

India had humbled Thailand 4-1 in their opening game but were unlucky to go down to UAE 2-0 in their last match. Assessing Stephen Constantine's men, Soukup commented, "We have as much information about India as other coaches have information on us. We know the strong points and weak points of India. I don't want to disclose much here.

"We have seen many of their games. We know how they play. We also know the history of the coach, who is managing India for the second time. We are tactically ready but the game is not decided on the whiteboard, the game is decided on the pitch and I hope the players understand and remember the information from our meetings and show it on the pitch tomorrow.

"They played good. They made a very good game against the UAE. We saw them create many goal chances against the UAE but the game is about results. I was at the stadium when India played Thailand in Abu Dhabi. They carried the same style to the UAE game. I hope they cannot repeat all those things tomorrow. We must be stronger, simple," he concluded.