India fell to a slightly disappointing 2-0 loss to UAE in the Asian Cup, despite fashioning enough opportuinities to have won the game. The failure to convert chances proved costly for the Blue Tigers.
However, there are a few positives that can be taken from the game and the chances of qualification into the next round is still high, feels former India goalkeeper Atanu Bhattacharya.
The India international spoke about how India were unlucky on the night and the forwards could have done better in front of goal.
“We were unfortunate today. We wasted silly chances and we had to pay for it. We created more chances than UAE and yet we lost the game," he told Goal.
“We had scored from those chances on previous occasions but we failed today. (Sunil) Chhetri missed two chances, Ashique (Kuruniyan) also a couple. Then (Sandesh) Jhingan's header went wide by a few yards.”
“The strikers should have been more clinical. India started well but I felt the thrust went missing in the second half,” the former East Bengal custodian said.
India’s hero from the last game, Chhetri had a night to forget. The captain failed to bury two clear-cut chances and Bhattacharya refused to criticise the Bengaluru FC forward.
“It was not Chhetri's day. He had converted these chances on numerous occasions. He jumped well between two defenders and credit must be given to the keeper as well for that save (in the first half),” Bhattacharya exclaimed.
Speaking about the two goals that were conceded, Bhattacharya commented that India's one-on-one defending needs improvement.
“Then there were defensive lapses. The first goal we conceded was due to a misunderstanding between the two defenders. We should also improve on our one-on-one defending”
“Gurpreet was way out of his line(for the first goal). He should have stayed on the line since a defender is there to take care of the situation. It was a minor mistake. But it was more of a defensive lapse (from the defenders). They should not have scored from that chance. We were two against one and still, we conceded. This hurts a bit.”
Ashique Kuruniyan – India’s revelation from the two games in the Asian Cup - received some praise from the former custodian for his performance against UAE.
“Ashique was once again very good today. He has good control of the ball and can support other players very well.”
India are now second in Group A and a win against Bahrain will surely take them through to the knockout stage. Bhattacharya was optimistic of India’s chances, judging by what was displayed by the team in the first two games.
“India still have a chance to qualify. They have played spirited football in both the games. And the way they played in the first half, I am hopeful we will do well against Bahrain. This is a good bunch of players.”
“They are young which is another advantage which means they recover faster. So even if they are playing three matches in 10 days, that should not be a problem. Instead, it is something that Bahrain should think about.”