Aiming for qualification from the group stages, India ended up on the losing side going down 0-2 to hosts United Arab Emirates in their second Group stage match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It was a day when the Indians hit the post twice in the second half and muffed two in the first-half. Alhamsi’s 40th-minute strike much against the run of play, and then Ali Mabkhout’s 80th-minute goal played villain on a night where the Blue Tigers gave the hosts the scare of their lives from the first minute itself. It just seemed like fate did not allow India to score.
However, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu applauded his side for the efforts and said, “Proud of the way the boys performed and we could have easily scored two or three goals today. People would not have expected this kind of performance from us.”
We were unlucky. Very unlucky. We could have scored 2 or 3 goals. The way we conceded was soft. I want to look into it and see it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
“We wanted to hit them on the counter and we got chances that we could not take. If we would have scored those chances it would have been a different game, physically and mentally,” Sandhu said.
“We need to be strong and keep our chins up. It happens in football. We need to perform against Bahrain and once again give a good testament of ourselves,” he added.
Center forward Sunil Chhetri, who failed to find the back of the net, gave his insights and said, “It was a tight game. UAE are a good side, and they converted their chances. When you get your chances, you got to convert them. If we could have taken ours, it could have been different.”
“We are still in the running. As a team, we are united and we are ready to fight. And that’s what we are going to do against Bahrain,” he added.
The Blue Tigers next play Bahrain in their last match on January 14. India are presently on three points from 2 matches, the same as Thailand, with UAE currently topping the group with 4 points from 2 matches.