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AFC Asian Cup 2019: Shyam Thapa - Bahrain tie a test for Stephen Constantine

8:11 AM IST 13/01/19
Shyam thapa
The former Indian footballer believes that India have a good chance to qualify for the knockouts...

India take on Bahrain in a crucial AFC Asian Cup game on Monday and a draw will ensure qualification into the knockout stage of the competition. Shyam Thapa, who is the Chairman of the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Technical Committee, opined that India have a good opportunity to assert themselves over Bahrain but warned them against playing for a draw.

“We have  a good chance against Bahrain. The way we are playing, I am hopeful that we will win or at least come out with a draw. This team should not lose. It is a test for Stephen (Constantine). In these critical moments, we have to see what is the tactical approach of the team and what formation he plays. When we play for a draw, sometimes we tend to concede," Thapa told Goal.

“We are an improved side. The players are spirited. They look physically fit and are running the entire 90 minutes. All these factors make me hopeful that India will do well against Bahrain," he added.

Thapa believes that the deence is not to be blamed for the defeat to UAE despite the fact that India conceded twice.

“UAE had individual brilliance. The striker (Khalfan Mubarak) had placed the ball perfectly. Short goalkeepers have a faster reflex. Whereas Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu) is tall, which is necessary and he is one of the best keepers in Asia, but in these kinds of shots, I think shorter keepers can react more quickly.”

“And the second goal had individual brilliance written all over it. It is his (Ali Mabkhout) quality which made the difference. Hence, it is not appropriate to blame our defence. Messi and Ronaldo score so many goals. Are the defenders at fault all the time?” Thapa responded when asked about the goals UAE scored against the Blue Tigers.

The 71-year-old backed the Indian strikers after a frustrating outing against UAE. Thapa attributed the misses to bad luck and the brilliance of goalkeeper Khalid Eisa.

“The goalkeeper was brilliant to save Sunil Chhetri's header. It was Sunil's bad luck and the goalkeeper's luck. He placed it well but was too close to the keeper. Just some inches to the other side and it would have been a goal. But he should have scored the second. Sunil is a master of all these things. The way he scores his goals, (it shows) that he is good at placing balls. But this is football. It is part and parcel of the game. Every player will not play the perfect game for 90 minutes,” he reasoned.