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Asian Cup 2019: India says goodbye as the UAE and Bahrain move to knockout stage Open in fullscreen

Uri Levy

Asian Cup 2019: India says goodbye as the UAE and Bahrain move to knockout stage

Adison Promrak of Thailand and Khalfan Mubarak Alshamsi of United Arab Emirates [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 January, 2019

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The Emirates hosted Thailand's 'War Elephants' at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain on Monday, taking a draw while Bahrain beats India 1-0.
The final round of the group stages kicked off with Group A, as the hosts, the UAE, Bahrain, Thailand and India all fought for a spot in the knockout stage.

The Emirates hosted Thailand's 'War Elephants' at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain, with almost a full stadium – a rare view in the tournament so far.

The hosts opened strong and found the net after seven minutes after a header from Ali Mabkhout. While it looked as though it was going to be a humiliating day for the Thais, they managed to get back into the game. Thitipan Puangchan took advantage of chaos in Khalid Eissa's box to equalise the score on a crucial timing – three minutes from half-time. 

On the parallel game, Bahrain against India, the result at half-time was 0-0. At this point, Thailand was going through to the knockouts together with India and the UAE, while Bahrain would have finished last.

But in the second half of the game, Bahrain got a penalty after a foul on Hamed Al-Shamsan in the 89th minute. Jamal Rashed scored, giving Bahrain the win and taking third place in the group's rankings. Thailand, on the other hand kept the draw with the UAE until the final whistle. This meant the tournament was over for India, despite a 4-1 victory over Thailand in a previous match. 

Following their draw against Thailand, the UAE has secured progression to the knockout stages in back-to-back Asian Cups – something the hosts have not managed since 1992 and 1996.

With his goal, Ali Mabkhout has now scored seven goals in the Asian Cup since the start of the 2015 competition – more than any other player in that time. 

Thailand has reached the knockout stage of the Asian Cup for the first time since 1972. Bahrain has also made it through the group stages of the Asian Cup for the first time since 2004, having been eliminated at this stage in their previous three appearances (2007, 2011 and 2015).

Tragically eliminated, India have failed to make it through to knockout stages in each of their last three appearances in 1984, 2011 and 2019.

As the knockout stage gets closer for the other groups, three Arab teams, the UAE, Jordan and Bahrain, have already guaranteed their spot, with a possibility that more teams from the Middle East will join them soon.


Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here.

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