While things could have been pretty straight forward had India managed a win or even a draw against hosts UAE, which many were hoping they would, it didn’t happen. However, it doesn’t necessarily make India’s third and last group game with Bahrain a must win either. Here’s how.
With the initiative to expand the AFC Asian Cup into a 24 team tournament, in came the third-placed rule. According to it, apart from the six group winners and runners-ups, four of the best third-placed teams would also be qualifying to the round of 16 of the Asian Cup.
Hence, the group stages are far from being sealed as of now and India with a win already in their bag stand a brilliant chance of going into the knockout stages for the first time in its history since the round-robin system was scrapped in 1972. Before going into the permutations, combinations and the assumptions, here’s a fact from history - in the three 24-team World Cups that had featured a round of 16
Apart from history, the one other thing going for India is their goal difference. Of course, if two teams or more are level on points after their three group stage games, the standard procedure will follow the order of goal difference, goals scored, fair play and national team
If India win against Bahrain
While a win over Bahrain would all but ensure India’s progress, India would still want to qualify as the first team to get an easier opponent in the round of 16. However, it is not in their hands for UAE’s win over Thailand would automatically mean India sit second. A Thailand win would see the War Elephants on level points with India but their current goal difference of -2 compared to India’s 1 should possibly see India top the table unless there
If India draw with Bahrain
Given the fact that Bahrain managed to hold UAE in the first group game, the chances of that happening against India are pretty high. However, in such a case India would finish with four points and their strong goal difference could see them qualify from the second place itself. The only tricky part would be if Thailand beat UAE, but even in that case, the War Elephants would need to win at least by three goals to
As per the group standings, apart from
It would be safe to start with a disclaimer that that in case India lose and Thailand beat UAE, the Blue Tigers would finish at the bottom of the table and no amount of goal difference, goal scored, or fair play would factor in the equation. Hence, our calculation is based only on the basis that Thailand
If India lose to Bahrain by a difference of one goal
In case of a loss to Bahrain by a
With China and South Korea already qualifying from Group C, either Kyrgyzstan or the Philippines could have a shot at finishing as the better third-placed side as they play each other. However, for that, Kyrgyzstan
In Group D, both Iran and Iraq are through leaving Vietnam and Yemen to fight out for the prized third place. Both the sides have started their campaign with two consecutive losses, however, while Vietnam would need a 4-0 win to leapfrog India, Yemen
Group E and F are similar to the previous two groups. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Uzbekistan have all qualified with two consecutive wins on the trot leaving the remaining two teams in each group to play against it each other. Lebanon
If India lose to Bahrain 2-0
The scenario gets worse here with India’s goal difference standing at -1 now. It
In Group C, Kyrgyzstan would need to ensure they win against the Philippines by a scoreline of at least two goals, with Kyrgyzstan will need to win that game by five goals if they have any chance of making it through. Group D won’t be getting much easier anyway, as Vietnam would be needing a win by three goals over Yemen the latter would have to win by a margin of eight goals. Group E would see Lebanon needing a win by
If India lose to Bahrain 3-0
This is definitely the worst case scenario for Stephen Constantine’s men. Their goal difference would be reduced to -2, making it very difficult to even classify in the four best third-placed teams of the six groups. So, Syria could target for a customary 1-0 over Australia while Palestine could strategize for a much more realistic 2-0 win over Jordan, who would take it easy since their qualification is already guaranteed.
Kyrgyzstan could totally ignore their previous losses with the Philippines aiming for a simple 1-0 win, which would more suitable for them as the Philippines will be under pressure to win 4-0 to have any chance. Vietnam will have to win 2-0 against Yemen, while Lebanon could still go for a very much possible 3-0 win. Oman would be the happiest as they are more than equipped to go for a win 1-0 against Turkmenistan, while the Turks can also eye a 2-0 win the opposite way.
Basically, India losing 3-0 would make most other matches extremely exciting.
If India lose to Bahrain 4-0
Honestly, if India
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