India bowed out of the Asian Cup 2019 after they finished at the bottom of the Group A standings after suffering a 0-1 defeat against Bahrain.
The Blue Tigers needed a point to confirm their berth in the round of 16 or should they suffer a defeat, a win for UAE against Thailand would have helped their cause. However, UAE and Thailand played out a 1-1 draw while India conceded a 89th minute penalty to Bahrain.
“We did not need to concede and Thailand did not need to score today but it all went opposite,” said midfielder Anirudh Thapa.
The Chennaiyin FC midfielder was benched in favour of NorthEast United’s Rowllin Borges in the centre of the park.
“In the team meeting I got to know I was not starting today. In the last match, I had got hit on my back,” he explained.
Thapa came on as a substitute late in the second half for Halicharan Narzary and he shared the instructions he got from Stephen Constantine.
“My instructions when I came on was to play in the wingers role. We were a winger short as Hali's ankle got twisted,” he mentioned.
“At half-time, we discussed that we need to press them and that we needed to keep our shape. We needed to press from the middle as they usually play from the wings,” he added.
Thapa was grateful for the experience he gained at the Asian Cup which would help further in his playing career.
“I learnt a lot from this experience by playing with the senior players. I am taking some good lessons back for myself. I am very disappointed for the team. We had a good opportunity. However, it is all in the luck as we gave our best but it did not happen.
“The best moment was our win in the first game, not only for me but for the whole team. It was India's first victory (at the Asian Cup) in so many years. But in the end, it did not happen for us,” said a disappointed Thapa.