Hosts United Arab Emirates closed in on a place in the last 16 at the AFC Asian Cup as they beat India 2-0 on Thursday.
India, who finished runners-up on their Asian Cup debut in 1964 when it was a four-team competition won by Israel, will still fancy their chances of reaching the knockout phase for the first time.
“Congratulations to UAE for their win. I think we created enough chances, especially in the first half, to have won two games, not just one game. The problem is, when you don’t convert them, they tend to come back (at you) and you pay for it. Last game, we converted them. But in this game, we didn’t. UAE had three shots on goal and one hit the post. I think we deserved a draw from this game but again, if you don’t convert your chances, you will pay,” coach Stephen Constantine told Goal.com.
Constantine added that he has 23 bitterly disappointed boys in his team after the loss.
“I have 23 bitterly disappointed boys and you couldn’t say that a few years ago. We would have come here, lost 2-0 and been quite happy. They are bitterly disappointed; they know that we could have taken something from this game. We have another game and we look forward to that, hope that we can convert the chances we make,” added Constantine.
India captain Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi in international goals as the Blue Tigers stunned Thailand 4-1 in their opening game to earn comparisons with Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli for his heroics.
The evergreen striker forced a smart save from UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa before the home side drew first blood against the run of play.
Mubarak whipped the ball home from an acute angle four minutes before half-time for the Emirates, who were runners-up the last time the country hosted the Asian Cup in 1996.
Mabkhout sealed the points with a cool finish two minutes from the end - his 47th goal in 75 internationals - to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering complexion but left UAE top of Group A on four points.
Until Mubarak’s strike - his first for his country - the 2015 semi-finalists had been largely restricted to pot shots that threatened little but the fleets of luxury cars in the stadium parking lot.
India take on Bahrain on Monday.