India goalkeeper Subrata Paul feels the loss against the mighty Australia was not demoralising, despite conceding four goals, and the team should take on Bahrain confidently in the next Group C Asian Cup match here Friday.
"We lost, but we have not been swamped. It was a fair result and I can say we can hold our heads high. We should be able to put up a better fight against Bahrain, who almost made it to the last World Cup. It will be another tough match and hopefully we will recover well for that game," the Pune FC goalkeeper told IANS.
Playing without skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, India -- the lowest ranked team in the tournament — were outplayed in their opening game Monday but their performance came in for praise from even the Socceroos coach Holger Osieck.
Paul, who effeccted some excellent saves, admitted that robust physique made the difference between the two teams, but strategy-wise there was little to choose between them.
"Australia are the No.1 team in Asia and it won't be fair to compare us with them. Yesterday it was there for everybody to see that physically they were too strong, but tactically we matched them well," said Paul.
India were not easy to play with: Oz coach
Despite losing 0-4 to Australia, India earned respect for their doggedness from their formidable opponents who said Bob Houghton's wards desereved to be in the tournament.
Australia's German coach Holger Osieck said though India struggled to keep pace with his boys, they stuck to their game to make it a contest in the opening Group C match and can held their heads high.
"They (India) competed well. They had good discipline and did not crumble under our incessant attack. It was not easy to break down their defence. They knew what they were doing," Osieck, who was assistant to the legendary Franz Beckenbauer when Germany won the 1990 World Cup, said.
Kuwait coach angry over two-match ban
Doha: Kuwait coach Goran Tufegdzic blasted Asian Cup organisers on Tuesday after they handed defender Mesad Nada a two-match suspension following his red card against China on Saturday.
Nada was sent off for kicking striker Yang Xu in the groin after 36 minutes in their opening Group A match. The incident was the turning point in the game, and without him Kuwait were exposed at the back and lost 2-0.
An angry Tufegdzic said the punishment did not fit the crime.
"Yesterday I saw a letter that said he had been banned for one match, now I have just been informed he has a two-match punishment, and I don't understand why," the Serbian told reporters in his media conference ahead of Wednesday's match against Uzbekistan.
"He made a mistake, but he does not deserve to miss two matches."
Tournament Director Tokuaki Suzuki said the extra match ban was imposed because of the serious nature of the incident. Suzuki also said South Korean defender Kwak Tae-hwi, who was sent off in Monday's 2-1 win over Bahrain, would be automatically suspended for one match.
UAE hold N korea to a goalless draw
The United Arab Emirates restored some pride to the Gulf teams by holding North Korea to a 0-0 draw in its opening Group D match of the Asian Cup. North Korea, which qualified for last year's World Cup, should have taken the lead in the sixth minute but captain Hong Yong Jo hit the bar with a penalty after Hamdan Al Kamali pushed Jong Tae Se inside the box.