The Indian football team knows, that heading into the final game against Bahrain on Monday, that a draw in Sharjah will suffice for safe passage through to the round of 16.
The Blue Tigers are on three points, as are Thailand. Hosts United Arab Emirates, courtesy of their 2-0 win against India, are on four points. India’s final group stage opponents Bahrain have just a solitary point from their two games, a draw against UAE.
A win against Bahrain is the easiest possible way for Stephen Constantine and his men to qualify for the Round of 16 as one of the top two teams. Only a UAE win against Thailand will then prevent India from finishing at the top of the group.
Irrespective of the result in the other game, India will directly qualify with a victory in their final group stage match.
Group C (Kyrgyz Republic, Philippines), Group D (Vietnam, Yemen), Group E (Lebanon, North Korea) and Group F (Oman, Turkmenistan) have two teams each who have a couple of losses and zero points to their name, heading into the final matches of the group stages.
A win would only push these teams up to three points but India with a draw can go up to four points and ensure themselves of progression. Since four best third-placed teams (out of six) go through, India, even if they finish third in this group, will go through.
Only a Thailand win against the UAE will push India to the third spot, due to the fact that both the Blue Tigers and the hosts will end up with four points. Any other result and India will finish second in the group with a draw.
A loss for Stephen Constantine’s men will leave them scrambling to finish third in the group stage. A three-way tie in the group could ensue if UAE defeat Thailand, leaving the three teams apart from the hosts with three points each.
India’s 4-1 victory over Thailand means that they will be favourites to finish third, barring a heavy defeat by Bahrain. A third-placed finish will now leave India counting upon results elsewhere to go their way in order to finish as one of the best four.