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AFC Asian Cup

AFC Asian Cup 2019: How India's Group A rivals have fared in the Asian Games

06:07 EAT 01/09/2018
Chenrop Samphaodi, Thailand U23, U23 AFC Championship qualifiers, 21072017
Goal takes a look at how Bahrain, UAE and Thailand have fared in the ongoing Asian Games in Jakarta.....

While India’s U23 squad have been undergoing a tour of Australia to prepare for the upcoming South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship, their AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup 2019 Group A counterparts have been testing themselves at the ongoing Asian Games in Indonesia.

The U23 outfits of the UAE, Thailand and Bahrain have all lent their participation to the continental games in Jakarta and have enjoyed campaigns with different degrees of success.

Here, we take a look at the performances of the three teams in the Asian Games.

THAILAND

Thailand entered the Asian Games as the reigning AFC Asian U23 champions, looking to improve on their fourth place finish in the 2014 edition held in South Korea.

However, things didn’t go according to plan for Worrawoot Srimaka’s men in Group B of the Asian where there were drawn alongside Uzbekistan, Bangladesh and Qatar.

In their opening game against Qatar, the War Elephants trailed Qatar by a 6th minute goal for the majority of the match before striker Supachai Jaided conjured up an injury-time equalizer to prevent defeat.

It was in their second game that Thailand were dealt a heavy blow to their progression chances with a spirited Bangladesh side holding them to a 1-1 draw. Once again, Thailand found themselves trailing by the solitary goal before Supachai struck a late equalizer in the 80th minute.

The wheels finally came off in the final group tie against the Uzbeks as Thailand fell to a 0-1 defeat. Their defeat, coupled with Bangladesh’s win over Qatar, meant that the War Elephants suffered the ignominy of crashing out in the group-stages. Their dismal campaign took its toll with head coach Worrawoot Srimaka being given the axe.

BAHRAIN

Having failed to qualify for the 2014 edition in Incheon, Bahrain were looking to make their mark in Group E of the 2018 edition where they were drawn alongside Malaysia, South Korea and Kyrgyz Republic.

Coached by Tunisian Samir Chammam, the Reds started their group stage campaign in the worst possible fashion as they suffered a 0-6 drubbing at the hands of favourites South Korea.

They were heading to a second straight defeat in the competition before Ahmed Saleh Sanad’s injury-time equalizer against the Kyrgyz Republic kept their progression hopes alive by a whisker.

In a must-win final group match against Malaysia, Bahrain went behind as early as the 20th minute before Mohammed Al-Hardan’s brace and a goal from Hamad Al-Shamsan put Bahrain on course for a decisive victory. Malaysia struck back through an injury-time penalty but Bahrain hung on for a 3-2 win and progressed to the pre-quarter final of the competition by virtue of being one of the four best third-place sides in the group stages.

In the Round of 16 clash against Vietnam, Bahrain gave a good account of themselves before being sunk by an 88th-minute goal by Nguyen Phuong. The pre-quarter final exit equalled Bahrain’s best showing in the Asian games which came in the 2002 edition.

UAE

Having advanced all the way to the quarter-final in the 2014 edition in South Korea, the UAE were looking to go at least one step further this time around. That is exactly what the side achieved as they progressed all the way to the semi-final of the competition.

Coached by Poland’s Maciej Skorza, UAE were drawn alongside China, Syria and Timor-Leste in Group C. Their campaign got off to a losing note as they suffered a 0-1 defeat to Syria in their opening match.

Skorza’s men bounced back into contention with a 4-1 thrashing of Timor-Leste in their next fixture with Zayed Al-Ameri bagging a brace.

Despite Mohammed Khalvan giving the side a 32nd minute lead in the final group clash against China, UAE fell to a 1-2 defeat. Nevertheless, they progressed to the Round of 16 by virtue of being the fourth best third-place team from the group stages.

In their first knock-out match, UAE were pitted against hosts Indonesia. Al-Ameri’s two regulation time penalties had given UAE a 2-1 lead before Indonesia struck back deep into injury-time to take the match into extra-time. A goalless 30 minutes meant spot-kicks would decide the fates of the two teams and it was the UAE who had the rub of the green as they advanced to the quarter-final with a 4-3 win in the shootout.

Their quarter-final meeting with North Korea would go down the same route after the two teams were locked at 1-1 in regulation time and the subsequent extra-time. Goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Shamsi was once again the hero in the shootout as the UAE progressed via a 5-3 scoreline.

Their luck finally ran out in the semi-final Ayase Ueda’s 72nd-minute strike proved enough for Japan to book their place in the summit clash.