The last-minute goal that saw China beat India 2-1 in the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers was heartbreaking for the Indians.
But Head Coach Clifford Miranda is not ready to lay down the arms so easily.
Instead, he says: “After every dark night comes a glorious morning,” as he prepares his troops for the final group stage game against the UAE.
Seconds away from earning a crucial point and a deserving draw after fighting back from a goal down against hosts China PR, the India U23 team suffered when China scored with practically the last kick of the game and ran away with a 2-1 victory in front of a sea of their fans in the Dalian Suouwan Stadium here in China.
Talking about his thoughts on the game, India U23 Head Coach Clifford Miranda said; “I think it was an evenly contested game. China did have the majority of the possession but that was because we chose to play in a manner where we could hurt them on the break, and to an extent we were successful. I believe we had more open chances and we had them where we wanted, but yes, we did lack quality when we got on the ball.”
“I’m extremely proud of each and every one of my players for the way they approached the game and carried out what was asked of them and moreover for responding the way they did after going down. It can’t get better in terms of desire and team spirit,” added the Head Coach.
The former India international felt like most games of football, yesterday’s match was a game of phases, adding: “For the first 25 minutes, we controlled the game. Of course, after that, China grew into the game and scored from a penalty, which was unfortunate for us, but we did well to regroup after that and keep fighting for the equaliser.
“They managed to score in the very last minute to win the game but I’d like to repeat myself and say I’m extremely proud of the way my players played considering the short duration we got to prepare as compared to China, who as far as I know have been preparing for the past three months.”
When asked about the team’s morale and how important it is to bounce back strong in the next match against UAE, Miranda said; “It’s normal to be upset whenever you lose and especially when you lose in the manner that we lost yesterday. It was a roller coaster of emotions, which changed minute by minute towards the end. This is the best and sometimes the worst part of the profession that we are in, things can change in a split second and nothing is guaranteed.”
“I’m sure my players are well versed in this, they are disappointed and so am I, but we must realise that we can’t change what has happened. It’s difficult, but the team understands that tomorrow is a new day,” he said.
“Mathematically, we still have a chance to qualify and for that to happen, we need to be mentally ready. If we still have a hangover from the previous result, we will lose this opportunity that we have ahead of us as well,” said the Head Coach, looking ahead to their next and final match of the group stage on Tuesday, Sep 12 against UAE.