Indian football has been doing significantly well in the last four years, and the AFC Asian Cup performance is a very crucial tournament to understand the level of Indian football and how, in future, the standards can improve.
Post-1964, India has never qualified for the knock out stage of the tournament, and it was expected to happen in 2019. But it is still a dream for India as they are knocked of group stage yet again.
Although India lost in the group stage of the tournament, the team looked promising, aggressive in approach and a lot can be expected to grow in future.
Here comes the report of India’s AFC Asian Cup performance.
India started group A with quality teams like Thailand, hosts UAE and Bahrain.India started the group stage with an enthralling win over Thailand 4-1. This victory brought a ray of hope amongst Indian fans. But the close losses against UAE and Bahrain gate-crashed all the Indian dreams to see India in the knock out stages.
India successfully scored four goals in the 1st match against Thailand and won the game 4-1. In the 2nd game against UAE, India started very well and missed many scoring opportunities. UAE on the other hand, with a possessional game, got a 2-0 win.The last encounter of the group stage was against Bahrain were India had to draw the game to qualify for the knock out stages. But 90th-minute penalty conceded by India ended the dreams of entire nation.
Match wise analysisIndia’s performance can be understood in very discrete against the individual opponents. With in-depth detailing of all the matches, we can get to a proper conclusion of the overall performance.
LACK OF PASSES & POSSESSION OF BALL
India has played a long ball game in all the three matches. In the first game, the plan worked very well, but the ploy failed in the next two games. Other teams had been able to create more passes amongst the team members.
The possession would have helped the Indian attackers to get more scoring opportunities. The midfielders have to work on more ball passing game rather than clearance or long ball pass.
EFFECTIVE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
India was commendably disciplined in all the three matches regarding defense. Led by Sandesh Jhingan, active tackles were made in all the three games. Indian defense has contributed to a considerable extent, not only in stopping the opposition attackers but also helped in creating counter-attack opportunities in all three games.
LACK OF SHOT ATTEMPTS
Indian forwards were not able to penetrate the defense of opposition in the games to create goal scoring opportunities. In total in the tournament, 16 shots were taken out of which 11 were off target.
This will not threaten the opposition defense to make a mistake to help them get goal scoring opportunities. The forwards and midfielders have to create strategic support amongst themselves so that the shots number increase and the accuracy of shots also increase over some time.
Last time in 2011, India lost to Bahrain 2-5 and knocked out of AFC Asian Cup and this time they failed to the same opponent 0-1 because of a last-minute penalty conceded by India.
Though India has been knocked out in the group stage, the game improvement is happening on long term vision. The Indian defense was a treat to watch throughout the tournament. But more passing culture and better performance regarding possession will help India in future major championships.