AFC Asian Cup: Stephen Constantine hits back at critics after India go down fighting vs UAE

Indians hit the post twice in the second-half and muffed two chances in the first-half (Indian Football Team Twitter Photo) HIGHLIGHTS UAE beat India 2-0 thanks to goals from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkho India are presently on three points from two matches behind UAE in Group A The Blue Tigers will next play Bahrain in their last match on Monday Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine lashed out at the critics after his team put in a spirited performance against pre-game favourites United Arab Emirates (UAE) before going down 0-2 in their second Group A match at the AFC Asian Cup on Thursday.

The Indians dominated the first-half and were unlucky to miss out on their second consecutive victory at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

"I think it's unfair. They have delivered something which no one has delivered since 1964. When was the last time India played in the Asian Cup like this (style of play)? Maybe in 1964," Constantine said.

It was a day when the Indians hit the post twice in the second-half and muffed two in the first-half.

"We created enough chances in the first half to win two games. At this level, the boys were absolutely fantastic, we just didn't convert. Last game we did and it was 4-1. It could have been 4-0 today and had we have scored one of those goals, UAE would have been in trouble.

"In the last couple of years, we have started to take the game to teams. If you remember in the past, we would go a goal down and then think - 'Okay, now let's play because there is no pressure.'

"We have to learn to play with the pressure and I think we started to do that and hope we have the same kind of performance in a few days and get the result we deserved. Today, we didn't deserve to lose," he added.

UAE took the lead against the run of play when Khalfan Mubarak (41st minute) produced a well placed finish a short while before the break. The hosts got their second goal a couple of minutes before the end of regulation time when a long ball caught most of the Indian defence out of position and Ali Mabkho (88th) scored with a good finish.

The Indians created around half a dozen clear chances, most of which came off the woodwork but it just seemed like luck was not on their side.

"All of the UAE and Thailand players have one thing in common - all are comfortable on the ball. We don't have that. I talk about the coach education in India - We've got to make better coaches that will create better Indian players at this age.

"This is the thing we need to focus on. We don't know how much ability we have in India - that's how much ability we have. It's just we've got to go and find it. There needs to be more emphasis on good quality Indian coaches," the Englishman added.

Not our day as the #BlueTigers suffer a 2-0 defeat at the hands of UAE and as a result, we remain with 3 points after our first 2 games. #INDUAE #BackTheBlue #IndianFootball #AsianDream

: AFC Media

Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) January 10, 2019 The Blue Tigers, who beat Thailand 4-1 in their campaign opener, will next play Bahrain in their last match on Monday.

India are presently on three points from two matches, same as Thailand, with hosts the UAE currently topping the group with 4 points from two matches. The UAE had previously drawn 1-1 with Bahrain.

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