​India’s young striker Ashique Kuruniyan is certain that playing against quality sides in the AFC Asian Cup helped enhance the ​Indian football team‘s decision making. 

India suffered a ​heart-breaking 0-1 defeat at the hands of Bahrain, which led to the Blue Tigers’ exit in the group stage of the tournament after a terrific start.

On Tuesday, speaking to ​AIFF’s official website regarding the Asian Cup experience, Kuruniyan said, “We got to play against some of the best players in the continent. It was a huge lesson for all of us as far as decision making in the match was concerned.”

Speaking about the standard of competition, the 21-year-old forward said, “The difficulty level was naturally high and all three matches were against difficult opposition. The experience of playing in such a high-quality tournament was amazing. I feel my game has improved after this challenge and now, we have to take it forward from here.”

India thrashed Thailand 4-1 in their opening group game before losing 2-0 to hosts UAE and 1-0 to Bahrain in the rest of their games.

On being asked about which game was the hardest for him at the Asian Cup, Kuruniyan stated, “I feel it was the last match against Bahrain. We had fewer chances to score and the opponents were playing a direct style of football. They were quite physical and were winning almost all the second balls. It was a tough outing for us.”

Speaking of his next target on the professional front, Kuruniyan concluded, “My next target is to get selected for the India U-23 team – first for the camp, and then in the final list of 23. The AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers are coming up, and we need to work on that.”


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