India could have done better, says striker Jeje

Indian football team striker Jeje Lalpekhlua on Wednesday rued the country’s crashing out of the ongoing Asian Cup and said it could have done better in the continental showpiece event.
India could have done better, says striker Jeje

New Delhi

India was on the verge of booking a maiden knock-out round berth, but conceded a goal via a penalty at the fag end of the final group match against Bahrain. It needed a draw to reach the ‘Round of 16’, but lost 0-1 to exit from the tournament. “We gave our 100 per cent in every match. But, we could have done better. Not qualifying out of the group stages is a setback for us. But it shows anything can happen in football,” said Jeje.

“It was a very difficult match against Bahrain and it was unfortunate the way we lost. However, that is life in football. The important part is the experience gained by the young players, which will pay dividends in future,” he was quoted as saying by the official website of All India Football Federation.

India outplayed Thailand 4-1 in the opening game to notch up its first win in the Asian Cup since 1964. Thailand qualified for the ‘Round of 16’, but eventually lost to China. “Our biggest achievement was the win against it,” said Jeje, who had scored India’s fourth goal in that match.

“We have to make Asian Cup qualification a regular feature. Now, we need to do well in the World Cup Qualifiers, which will be followed by qualifying for the Asian Cup 2023,” stated the Chennaiyin FC player. India had qualified for the Asian Cup after an eight-year hiatus. Its previous appearance was in 2011 in Doha, where it had lost all its group matches by big margins.

“The sleeping giant is now awake. We have shown the whole of Asia that we belong on the same page as them. Our performance has improved tenfold and it can only get better from here as youngsters have been given the required experience. Indian football can go only upwards, towards a brighter future,” signed off Jeje.

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