Playing against quality opponents in the AFC Asian Cup helped enhance the Indian football team’s decision-making skills, young striker Ashique Kuruniyan said Tuesday.
India suffered a heart-breaking 0-1 defeat at the hands of Bahrain, which led to the Blue Tigers’ exit in the group stage of the tournament after a terrific start.
“We got to play against some of the best players in the continent. It was a huge lesson for all of us as far as decision making in the match was concerned,” Ashique was quoted as saying by the All India Football Federation’s official website.
“The difficulty level was naturally high and all three matches were against difficult opposition. The experience of playing in such a high-quality tournament was amazing. I feel my game has improved after this challenge and now, we have to take it forward from here.”
India started their campaign on a winning note, thrashing Thailand 4-1 but were unable to continue the winning momentum, losing to hosts United Arab Emirates 0-2 and Bahrain 0-1.
Asked which match was the hardest, Ashique said: “I feel it was the last match against Bahrain. We had fewer chances to score and the opponents were playing a direct style of football. They were quite physical and were winning almost all the second balls. It was a tough outing for us.”
The 21-year-old is now concentrating on making the cut for the India under-23 team ahead of the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers.
“My next target is to get selected for the India U-23 team – first for the camp, and then in the final list of 23. The AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers are coming up, and we need to work on that,” he said.