In­dia need draw ver­sus Bahrain to ad­vance

Hindustan Times (Noida) - - HTSPORT - HT Cor­re­spon­dent sports­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

SHAR­JAH: Ex­pec­ta­tions weren’t very high when Stephen Con­stan­tine’s In­dia be­gan their Asian Cup cam­paign in Abu Dhabi last Sun­day. A sur­prise 4-1 win over Thai­land and a promis­ing per­for­mance against hosts UAE in a 2-0 de­feat, have raised prospects of a place in the Round of 16. In­dia take on Bahrain in their last group game at the Al-shar­jah Sta­dium on Mon­day, with the knowl­edge that a draw will be enough to take them to the next round.

In the last two of the three edi­tions they have played in, In­dia failed to make it past the open­ing round of the Asian Cup. In 1964, when In­dia fin­ished run­ners-up, only four teams had taken part in a round robin for­mat.

Cur­rently sec­ond in the group with three points, the sce­nario for Con­stan­tine’s side is sim­ple. A win will see In­dia seal a top-2 place in the group, with the pos­si­bil­ity of a top spot in the event of UAE fail­ing to beat Thai­land. A draw will take In­dia to the next round, ir­re­spec­tive of what hap­pens in the other group game. If UAE win or draw against Thai­land, In­dia will be sec­ond in the group.

If Thai­land beat UAE, In­dia will fin­ish the group third with a draw but will still progress to the next round as one of the best third-placed teams. As many as four of the third-placed teams from the six groups will make it to the last-16, and in at least three of these groups, the third-placed teams are guar­an­teed to fin­ish with three points or less.

How­ever, a loss will leave In­dia at the mercy of other re­sults. If In­dia lose and UAE fail to beat Thai­land, In­dia will fin­ish bot­tom of the group and will be out of the tour­na­ment. Con­stan­tine’s side will need to hope for a UAE win in such a sce­nario. How­ever, even then, In­dia will fin­ish with just three points and pro­gres­sion to the next round will be de­pen­dent on the points tally and goal dif­fer­ences of all six third-placed teams.

IN­DIA CON­FI­DENT

Ahead of the crunch game, In­dia will be high on con­fi­dence af­ter two bright per­for­mances. Con­stan­tine de­cided to name an un­changed XI against UAE af­ter the win over Thai­land, and de­spite a cru­cial er­ror from cen­tre-back

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