Stephen Constantine: We created enough chances to win two matches
The Indian national football team suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of hosts UAE in their second match of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 played at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. The Blues Tigers missed a host of opportunities and hit the woodwork twice, but couldn't register a goal in the 90 minutes. The win took the Whites to the top of Group A, while India dropped down to the second spot. All four teams in the group now have a chance to qualify for the knockout stage, depending on the results of the final match on January 14.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, India head coach Stephen Constantine provided a brief assessment of the match. The Englishman congratulated the Emiratis for the result before arguing that his players deserved more for their efforts. "Firstly, congratulations to the UAE for their win. I think we created enough chances to win two games, not one game. When you don’t convert them, they tend to come back and you pay for it. Last game we converted, this game we didn’t. UAE had three shots on goal, one hit the post and the other two went it. I think we deserved a draw from this game, at least. But again, if you don’t convert your chances, you pay for it," he said.
Constantine then went on to laud each of his players for their valiant effort on a day which, he felt, just didn’t belong to them. Urging his players to keep their chins up, the Englishman said, "Yes, the boys gave absolutely everything. I just felt we just didn’t covert and we paid. We hit the bar twice, a couple of brilliant saves from their keeper and a couple of chances we should have scored. I have 23 bitterly disappointed boys. You couldn’t say that a few years ago. We would come here (in the past) and lose 2-0 and be quite happy. But they are bitterly disappointed. They know we could have taken something from this game. We have another game and we look forward to it and hope to convert the chances that we create."
Udanta Singh looked to be in a bit of discomfort before being subbed off in the second-half. Confirming that it was more of a precautionary measure, Constantine informed, "He’s one of those boys who covered quite a few kilometres. To be fair, he was looking a little bit jaded. Injury-wise he seems okay. We thought if we get Jackichand (Singh) on, it’ll give us a little bit of a spark down that side. So, he’s fine injury-wise."
When asked whether he thought his team could compete on even footing with the other higher-ranked teams in the tournament, the veteran coach opined, "I think we can give anyone a game. I think that’s clear from the performance of the first game and our qualification process and today. Some of the UAE players were coming up to me and saying that they recognized we were good. That’s nice but at the end of the day, we lost. We’ll pick ourselves up tomorrow and get ready for the next game."
Read the match report here.