A valiant India went down 2-0 to UAE in the second game of the AFC Asian Cup at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening. Khalfan Mubarak provided the opener in the 41st minute and Ali Ahmed Mabkhout secured the points late in the second-half, confirming a result that puts the host nation in pole position to advance.
Former India international Subrata Bhattacharya opined that it was just bad luck to lose against UAE even after creating a host of opportunities.
"It was sheer bad luck. They (India) played very well. They fought until the last moment which is the most important thing. The way they played against a country (UAE) which has played in the World Cup is outstanding. We missed a few chances but that is part and parcel of the game. Players who score goals also misses. That is not an issue," expressed the 65-year old coach.
Bhattacharya, a defender during in his playing days, did not blame India's defence for the goals conceded.
"In football, defensive misunderstandings do take place. Also, Gurpreet is a good goalkeeper. I cannot blame him as sometimes these types of things happen in football. He has the capability to show leadership."
But the former Mohun Bagan stalwart did point out two areas in which he thinks India are lagging behind.
"The two things we are still lacking are height and physical strength. Basically, we are physically weaker than these sides. We are a little on the backfoot in this front. Otherwise, they have fought bravely. They created so many chances but could not take them. These things happen. Otherwise, a very good performance. The fighting spirit is commendable," said Bhattacharya.
When quizzed about India's chances against Bahrain, the NFL-winning coach remained optimistic.
"India has strong possibilities against Bahrain. Even a draw would be enough to qualify for next round. I strongly hope that they manage to do that," concluded Bhattacharya.
India will face Bahrain in the last group game on Monday.