Asian Cup 2019: Familiar Failings - India succumb once again while playing for a draw

India vs Bahrain Ashique Kuruniyan
India are not the best when it comes to churning out a draw…

Team India couldn’t make it into the round of 16 of the Asian Cup 2019 as they suffered a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Bahrain on Monday evening in what was their final Group A game.

Pronay Halder, who was named captain for the evening, committed a foul on Hamad Al Shamsan with Jamal Rashed dispatching the resulting penalty in the injury time of the second half.

Going into their final group match, India only needed a draw to confirm their berth in the knockout stages. A loss would also have worked had United Arab Emirates (UAE) defeated Thailand which would have allowed India to progress as the best third placed team.

However, things didn’t go as planned as UAE and Thailand played out a 1-1 draw while Bahrain edged past India with a late goal. The Blue Tigers finished at the bottom of the table despite having won the opening game in style as they handed out a 4-1 defeat to Thailand, who progressed into the next round despite having a negative goal difference (-2).

It must be remembered that back in 2013, India needed a draw to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup. The winner of the said competition would earn a berth in the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia. Wim Koevermans’ side failed to even qualify for the Challenge Cup, let alone the Asian Cup.

Wim Koevermans

Gouramangi Moirangthem, Pai Soe, Myanmar vs India, AFC Challenge Cup

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India started their campaign in Myanmar with a 2-1 win over Chinese Taipei with goals from Jewel Raja and Robin Singh. In the following match, India downed Guam 4-0 with Sunil Chhetri, Clifford Miranda and Raja on the score-sheet.

Going into the final round of games, Myanmar needed a win while India only had to get a draw to qualify for the Challenge Cup as group winner. India resorted to a defensive approach but did have a couple of scoring opportunities which befell Miranda and Chhetri respectively.

It was only after they conceded in the 75th minute that Koevermans got his team to start attacking. India failed to test the Myanmar custodian and as a consequence, failed to qualify for the Challenge Cup.