India suffered a heart-breaking 0-1 defeat to Bahrain in their last group stage match to crash out of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in Sharjah on Monday. Jamal Rashed scored from the spot in stoppage-time to propel Bahrain to the round of 16. In the other match in Group A, Thailand secured a 1-1 draw against hosts United Arab Emirates. India finished last in the Group A points table with three points, while the UAE, Thailand, and Bahrain qualified for the knockout stages with five and four points, respectively. Thailand, who lost 1-4 to India in the opening match, still have a chance to make it to the next round.
Bahrain dominated the match but could not find a way past a resolute India. The Indian defence repelled attack after attack from Bahrain but it all went south for India in injury-time.
Bahrain converted a penalty in the 91st minute through Jamal Rashed, who made no mistake from the spot after India captain Pronay Halder committed a careless tackle inside the box.
This was India’s fourth appearance in the continental showpiece, beginning with the 1964 edition, in which only four teams participated.
In their next Asian Cup in 1984, India were knocked out in the first round and they suffered a similar fate in 2011, when they lost heavily to Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.
However, the team under coach Stephen Constantine started the tournament with a demolition of Thailand, sounding a warning that it was not here to make up the numbers.
They were a shade unlucky against the UAE and went down fighting, but looked well below-par against Bahrain.
The Blue Tigers started off shakily after losing defender Anas Edathodika to injury as early as the second minute, but Sandesh Jhingan and his colleagues managed to stave off the Bahrain strikers until the blunder inside the box.
(With PTI inputs)