Indian football team assistant coach Trevor Sinclair felt there were various factors that contributed to the team's defeat against Australia in their opening match of the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

India faced Australia on Saturday in a match where they showed bravery but ultimately succumbed to the Socceroos, the highest-ranked team from Group B. 

Sinclair, who joined the team as assistant coach at the beginning of the year, brings substantial experience from playing in the Premier League and featuring in the 2002 World Cup for England. Reflecting on the outcome against Australia, Sinclair emphasised the positive mood within the camp despite the result.

“The mood is positive (in the camp). We want to win every game. We went into that game believing we could make an upset. The preparation, the work that the boys have put in, the team spirit that’s built over the last 14 days and even before I even joined this group of players, you could see it was evident. Really good habits in training and work ethic among this group of players. The spirit is good, but it’s disappointing (losing to Australia) because we want to win football matches,” he told the ISL Media team.  

In the opening match, Australia outclassed India, with the Blue Tigers having minimal opportunities to score. The Socceroos dominated possession with over 70%, unleashing 28 shots at goal.

Despite Australia's significant efforts, they could only secure two goals against India, both occurring in the second half after facing resistance in the initial period. India head coach, Igor Stimac, attributed both goals to his team's errors.

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Sinclair disclosed that the team held the belief that they could achieve a favourable result against a higher-ranked team like Australia. However, he acknowledged distinct reasons for missing out on securing the three points and expressed his delight for the team, having faced a high-quality opponent. He hopes the experience will prove beneficial in their development.

“We believed we had a chance (to get something from the game). We got to half-time (goalless). The belief was there. Probably, a little bit of fatigue hurt us a little bit and the lack of quality at times in possession. They’re honest boys. They admit they could be better in possession. The fact that we didn't keep the ball better and that we know we had to keep the ball better. It’s a little bit of both (along with the quality of) Australian players,” the former Manchester City FC player said. 

He further said: “They’re coming from top leagues around Europe and the intensity (of their game) and presses are a lot more intense. We struggled a little at times to keep the ball. We want to make improvements to that. It’s a fantastic experience for the boys playing against a group of professionals that play at that level. And it can only benefit us in the future. Hopefully, we can learn and improve quickly from that.”

A notable positive for India in the match was their robust defensive performance, especially during the first half. The team displayed a cohesive defensive unit, particularly excelling in handling set pieces against the physically imposing Australian side. They successfully prevented Australia from scoring in dead-ball situations. Sinclair commended the team for their dedicated effort and expressed confidence in their ability.

“I thought they defended superbly well. It’s unkind to pick individuals out, but as a team, we defended those set pieces. From Sunil (Chhetri) all the way back to the goalkeeper (Gurpreet Singh Sandhu) and I thought they were exceptional. We got to make sure we got clear objectives on what we want to do defensively. Make sure we understand our roles and responsibilities moving forward as well and make sure the boys are confident when we go out there. They’re going out there to represent India and they’ve got pride in doing that. They made the fans proud with what they are achieving on the pitch,” he asserted.