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AFC Asian Cup 2019 – India’s knockout qualification scenarios explained

AFC Asian Cup 2019 – India’s knockout qualification scenarios explained

Saketh Ayyagari

Published: 14 Jan 2019 4:03 AM GMT

India is proving to be a different side in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 so far. The Blue Tigers firmly grabbed the spotlight with a thumping 4-1 win over Thailand in the opening game.

It was not just the result but the manner in which they dismantled the Thai team in the second half that was a sight to behold. Buoyed by that performance, Stephen Constantine’s side put on another top performance against hosts and group favourites UAE.

However, in a game of small margins, India lost the match 2-0. Once again, the team’s display was top-notch, and the result could have ended up comfortably in their favour, if not for a couple of shots hitting the post and excellent goalkeeping.

Now, heading into the final round of matches in Group A, this is how the table looks like after two rounds.

Thus, India is in second place, and still, have the qualification in their own hands. So, let us see how the subcontinent side can go through based on all possible results against Bahrain in the final group game.

Scenario 1 - India beat Bahrain

The best-case scenario is India beating Bahrain. The latter is ranked 113 in FIFA rankings, compared to India’s 97, which should make Sunil Chhetri and Co. favourites for the tie.

If India beat Bahrain, then qualification is assured irrespective of how the match between UAE and Thailand turns out.

If UAE beat Thailand, then India will go through as group runners-up and will potentially face a tough tie against China PR or South Korea.

On the other hand, if Thailand draws with UAE, the latter qualify as group runners-up while India goes through as group winners.

Even if Thailand beats UAE, India will qualify as group winners despite being level on points with the Thai team. Superior head-to-head will place the Blue Tigers above Thailand in this case.

Scenario 2 – India draw with Bahrain

If India shares the spoils with Bahrain, then they will end up with four points. Even in this case, India has an excellent chance to qualify for the knockouts.

If UAE beat Thailand in the other game, then the latter will finish with 3 points, ensuring India’s qualification as group runners-up behind the hosts.

On the other hand, if the game ends in a draw, then India and Thailand will be level on 4 points, and they will qualify as group runners-up due to their superior head-to-head record.

Finally, if Thailand beat UAE to qualify as group winners, then UAE will go through as runners-up. In this case, India is assured to make it to the knockouts as one of the best third-placed teams, considering the situations in remaining groups.

Scenario 3 – Bahrain beat India

Obviously, the least-preferred situation, India losing to Bahrain is the only scenario where the Blue Tigers could fail to make it to the next round.

In this scenario, Bahrain will end up with 4 points, one more than India. This would require UAE to defeat Thailand so that the hosts and Bahrain go through as the top two in the group.

However, India will finish third ahead of Thailand due to superior head-to-head record. Qualification for the next round as one of the best third-placed teams will depend upon results in other groups.

If Thailand either beat or draw with UAE, then both teams will clinch automatic qualification to the knockouts. Meanwhile, India will finish last with 3 points and will be knocked out of the tournament.


Thus, India’s qualification chances are still in their hands and are well-placed to go through unless Bahrain defeat them. In this case, the Blue Tigers will have to rely on other results to have a shot at qualification.

However, India only needs to focus on putting in another top performance and hopefully, get a result, and consequently, qualify to the knockouts.

Also read: Indian football needs more efficient use of talents

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