India fought bravely but went down 2-0 to UAE in their second group game of the AFC Asian Cup at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night. Goals in each half from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Ahmed Mabkhout fired UAE to the top of Group A.
Former India goalkeeper and commentator Henry Menezes felt that India deserved more from the game.
"It was one of those days that India played so well but things didn't go our way. We missed six golden chances and three of them were clear cut chances. The ball just did not go in. And we conceded two soft goals that did the thing for UAE.
"But playing abroad in front of a 43,000 crowd is amazing and nostalgic. We feel happy about the team's performance even though we lost," stated the deputy chairman of the technical committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
But the former India international feels that defence should have been tighter.
"We can always blame people. It was a collective effort and we played positive football. We conceded against the run of play but yes defence needs to be stronger."
He also praised Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and absolved him of any blame for UAE's opener.
"It is not easy to mark an eight-meter goal. He picked up balls brilliantly throughout the match, plucking out balls from the air and I can't blame him," defended Menezes.
But he remains optimistic that India can still qualify from the group and stressed on the improvements that India have achived.
"The group is open. It is anybody's game right now. If we cannot win against Bahrain then we should get at least a draw and then the best third-place rule could help us. India should go all-out against Bahrain. More importantly, India is being noticed in Asia right now. The way they played against Thailand and now against UAE (it shows they have improved)," concluded Menezes.