The Blue Tigers of India started the 2019 Asian Cup with an amazing 4-1 upset over Thailand and didn’t disappoint in a 2-0 loss to hosts UAE.
But in the last match, India was minutes away from booking a spot in the last sixteen.
A scoreless draw against Bahrain would have been enough to go to the second round, but a late mistake led to a penalty in stoppage time.
Jamal Rashid converted from the penalty spot and Bahrain won the match 1-0.
It was a heart-breaking loss for India and manager Stephen Constantine. But despite the loss, it is still fair to say that India made its fans proud and will not return home in disappointment.
Everyone knows that India is known as cricket nation, but progress has been made under Constantine in his second stint with India.
In the other group match, hosts UAE and Thailand finished to a 1-1 draw in Al Ain.
UAE and Thailand finished in the top two spots respectively, and Bahrain will also advance as the best third-placed team.
Prior to the start of the tournament, some of the experts and pundits might have felt that UAE was one of the contenders.
But after the group phase, it is safe to say that UAE is not a contender to win the tournament.
UAE has talented players and the support of the home crowd.
But UAE couldn’t beat Thailand and also needed the help of the referee to avoid embarrassment against Bahrain.