15 January 2019
In the final fixture of the AFC Asian Cup Group A, India and Bahrain will face-off at the Sharjah Stadium in what will be a decisive match for both teams.
The Blue Tigers are presented with a great opportunity of going past the group stage as they only have to duck defeat to advance to the knockout stage. After opening the tournament with an outstanding 4-1 win over Thailand, Stephen Constantine’s players have suffered an unfortunate 2-0 loss to the hosts the United Arab Emirates. India’s main strength that has let them down against UAE is their impressive backline. In their last ten games, India have managed to keep a clean sheet five times, conceding over 1.5 goals per match just three times in the process. However, Constantine’s team has been struggling in the final third recently, failing to hit the net three times in their previous five meetings while scoring over 1.5 goals per match only once in that period.
On the other hand, Bahrain, who came into the tournament after securing three consecutive wins, have failed to live up to expectations in their opening two games in the group stage. Having lost a precious 1-0 lead over UAE in the closing minutes of the encounter, Al-Ahmar have failed to bounce back against a fragile Thailand side, suffering a disappointing 1-0 loss. With just one point after two opening matches, the clash with India is a must-win game for Miroslav Soukup’s men if they look to avoid an early exit. Bahrain will have to find a way to solve the attacking crisis that has seen them scoring one goal or less in their last three outings. Still, their defense has proved to be firm in the previous five meetings, allowing just two goals in that period. It seems that Bahrain move up a gear only in the second half, as 11 of the last 16 goals they’ve scored came after the half-time break.
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