AFC Asian Cup: What India has to do to progress to knockouts

United Arab Emirates currently tops the group with four points, while India and Thailand are on the second and third spot with three points each and Bahrain is at the bottom with one point.

Jeje Lalpekhlua celebrates after scoring against Thailand.   -  AFP

India is on the verge of reaching the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 1964 and a win against Bahrain will ensure the side's smooth passage into the next round. However, India could qualify even if it were to play a draw, while a loss would prove detrimental. Group A is currently wide open and all four teams still have a realistic chance of qualifying. 

As of Sunday night, the United Arab Emirates tops the group with four points, while India and Thailand are on the second and third spot with three points each and Bahrain is at the bottom with one point. Here are the three possible scenarios explained:

If India beats Bahrain

If the Blue Tigers get the better of Bahrain then they are through to the round-of-16 regardless of the result of the game between the United Arab Emirates and Thailand. The win will take India's tally to six points from three games and could take India to the top of Group A. If UAE manages to beat Thailand, then it will lead with seven points, while India will finish in the second spot.

If India draws against Bahrain

India is likely to qualify even if it draws against Bahrain. The result will take India's tally to four points, while Bahrain will remain in the bottom with two points. If UAE beats Thailand, then it will finish on top with seven points, while India will finish second. If UAE and Thailand play a draw, then India will finish second as it has a better head-to-head record as compared to Thailand. 

In the event that UAE loses to the Thai, then the latter will lead the group with six points and UAE will be second as it has a better head-to-head record against India. That result will push India to the third spot, but it will still have a chance to progress. The odds favour India as Kyrgyzstan and Philippines are yet to open their accounts in Group C and the same is the case with Vietnam and Yemen in Group D, North Korea and Lebanon in Group E and Oman in Group F. Even if these teams do claim a win, they would not match India's tally of four points.

If India loses to Bahrain

The side's hopes of qualifying will take a severe beating if it fails to beat Bahrain. The loss would leave India reeling with just three points, while Bahrain will have four points to its name. If Thailand beats UAE, then India will finish fourth and would be eliminated. However, if UAE defeats Thailand, then Stephen Constantine's men will remain in the hunt for a berth in the next round as they could advance as one of the four best third-placed teams.

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