The disappointment was written all over on India Under-23 coach Desmond Bulpin's face as he spoke to HT after the Olympic qualifier against Qatar, which ended 1-1.
"We should have won this, we really should have. I haven't seen these boys play better than today and we kept Qatar on the backfoot through the whole match," he said. "We pressed hard and won the high balls every time. They are a technically superior which is why the boys have to keep pressing."
Midfielder Lalrindika Ralte missed a crucial penalty which would have given India an early lead. Through the I-League season, Indian Arrows had Jeje Lalpekhlua taking spot-kicks.
Asked why he made the change, the coach said: "Jeje's missed a lot of penalties through the season and there was immense pressure on him in the run-up to this game. On the other hand, Dika never misses in practice so I made this change."
"I was very impressed with the side and they've obviously done a lot of hard work," said senior coach Armando Colaco.