Tricky but still very possible! A look at India’s Knockout round chances

Bahrain’s loss to Thailand followed by India’s disconcerting loss to UAE has thrown Group A of AFC Asian Cup wide open.

India’s qualification into the Knockout rounds of AFC Asian Cup is in line after Thailand snatched a crucial 1-0 win against Bahrain which was followed by India’s disheartening loss to host UAE.

Despite creating numerous chances India failed to convert anything into goals as UAE punished visitor’s profligacy and lack of luck with a 2-0 win. Both Ashique and Skipper Chhetri had a chance to put India into lead but UAE Goalkeeper Khalid Eisa pulled off brilliant saves to deny the Indians.

While Chhetri missed another chance minutes after UAE took the lead as his shot rolled inches past the post, luck didn’t favour the visitors either as twice they were denied by the woodwork. The loss means the final group game has now become very important for all teams concerned with various results throwing various qualification possibilities.

Case 1: India wins against Bahrain

This will be the best case scenario for India as a win in the final group game would mean India secures 6 points in 3 matches which means India finish in either of the top 2 spot that guarantees automatic qualification to round of 16 irrespective of Thailand vs UAE result.

India’s Sunil Chhetri in action against UAE

Case 2: India draws with Bahrain

In this case, India would end with four points from three games and Bahrain gets knocked out. India’s qualification process would then rely on Thailand vs UAE game.

This puts further 3 cases:

  • UAE win: India goes through as 2nd best side and secures direct qualification.
  • Thailand Win: India finish 3rd behind UAE due to a loss in head to head records against UAE, which would also mean India, would have to be in one of the four best 3rd place teams.
  • Thailand-UAE draw: India finish 2nd due to a win in head to head records against Thailand and secures direct qualification.

Case 3: India lose to Bahrain

This would put India’s qualification entirely on UAE-Thailand game. A draw or win for Thailand would mean India crash out of tournament. On the other hand, UAE win would mean India ends as 3rd place team in group A and hopefully one of the four best 3rd place teams in the tournament.

Despite all permutations and combinations, India would still be looking for a win against Bahrain. Their performances against Thailand and UAE have been testimony to the fact that India is not here to sit back and pray but they are here to take the fight against their opponent.

Like Chhetri said post UAE loss, “We never shy away from a fight. We’re going to fight right to the last second, no matter what happens.”

“We’re not the most technical side, we’re a young side, but we never shy away from a fight. We’re going to fight right to the last second, no matter what happens.”

Also Read: We need to win against Bahrain: Constantine

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