Asian Cup: Chhetri rues missed chances against UAE


Asian Cup: Chhetri rues missed chances against UAE
India's Sunil Chhetri vies for the ball with UAE's Ali Hassan Ali Salmin. (Photo by Ryan Lim)

Abu Dhabi - "Oh man, those two chances. I think Kuruniyan and I will not sleep for a long time now. They were routine chances," Chhetri said

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 9:36 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 11:40 PM

India's players, understandably, were heartbroken after their 2-0 loss to the UAE in the AFC Asian Cup Group A match on Thursday night. 
The pain of missing chances by few inches will not allow many of them to sleep for a few nights. After doing all the hard work, skipper Sunil Chhetri and Ashique Kuruniyan crashed Indian hopes into the goal post.
"Oh man, those two chances. I think Kuruniyan and I will not sleep for a long time now. They were routine chances. We will score 10 out 10 times during training. If we had scored those, then we would have had them exactly where we wanted. We would have had the upper hand. We did our best but things could have been better. Starting with me, I take the blame," the Indian skipper said.
Chhetri said the difference in the match was that Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout were able to convert the UAE chances and Indians couldn't.
"We can't miss chances like that against teams like the UAE. We should have done better with our finishing. In these big games, the margins are small and you don't get this many chances. It's one of those days where we didn't convert our chances," the prolific striker said. 
The skipper said the players couldn't handle nerves of a big game situation. "If at the start of the game, someone would have told me we were going to get five chances the way we did, I would've taken it.
"Anyone would've taken it against the UAE. We created chances but didn't convert them, not even single one of them. If we did that before they did, if we are 2-0 up, things would have been definitely different. That's kind of nerves in big games and that's the difference," he said.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh is upset at not being able to keep a clean sheet so far.
"It is part of being a keeper, you save and concede goals. I wish to have saved them but now we need to ensure we don't repeat mistakes and try and win the next game," he told reporters after the game.
Even as he strives for an improved show in defence, Gurpreet takes solace from the performance of his players. 
"It wasn't the one-sided game which most people expected. But we can't concede goals like those. We were a goal-down and got a bit desperate in the second half and got punished," he said.
Now the focus shifts to the next do-or-die battle against Bahrain on Monday.
And Chhetri is confident of entering the knockout stage.
"I want everyone to learn from the mistakes and be a better unit on Jan. 14. We're not the most technical side. We're a young side but we aren't scared of anyone. No matter what happens, we will fight till the last second. We know exactly what we want in terms of numbers. We're going to go there and fight till the last," Chhetri added.

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