India face Bahrain in the final group stage match of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 for a spot in the Round of 16 clashes for the first time since the knockout stages were introduced.
A point tonight would be enough for India to secure their qualification to the knockout clashes. The Blue Tigers have won one and lost a game in UAE so far and sit in second place in Group A ahead of the final round of games.
The only way India could bow out of the competition is if they lose to Bahrain and Thailand defeat UAE; thrusting India to the bottom of the Group A.
India’s opponents in the Round of 16 would depend on the position in which they finish in Group A. Here are the possibilities depending on India’s probable position should they qualify.
Scenario 1: India win against Bahrain and top Group A
Scenario 2: India finish second in Group A
If India finish second they will face the second-placed team from Group C which would be one of South Korea or China. China just need a draw in their game against Korea on 16 January to ensure top spot on goal difference, while Korea would win Group C if they beat China in that game at Abu Dhabi’s Al Nahyan stadium.
Scenario 3: India finish third in Group A
If India qualify as a third-place team from Group A, they will either face the winner of Group B or the winner of Group C.
India have a higher probability of facing Jordan, the winner of Group B than coming up against South Korea or China who are the two teams competing for the top spot in Group C.
India will only play the winner of Group C if third-place teams from both Group C and Group D qualify for the Round of 16. Any combination without teams from Group C and D would see India play Jordan on 20 January 2019 at Dubai’s Al-Maktoum stadium.