If India play anything like they did in the last two friendlies against Pakistan, they will be hammered by the big teams in the Asian Cup, with embarrassment even too embarrassed to stay anywhere near their vicinity.
India were a little lucky to come away with a 1-0 win over their big rivals Pakistan in their first U-23 friendly at the Bangalore Football Stadium, but there was no luck involved on Wednesday afternoon at the same venue as Pakistan simply outclassed their higher-ranked opponents.
From the word go there was only one team that looked like they wanted the win and looked capable of scoring goals, and Pakistan banished those finishing blues, which they suffered in the first match on Sunday, to pick up a thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory.
India were poor, toothless, lacklustre and lacking in cohesion, looking nothing like the side that spent a month away in the Czech Republic apparently bonding and honing their skills for the upcoming Asian Cup in Incheon.
Easily, Pakistan were the better side in the second match and indeed over the two legs, and they got their due rewards on Wednesday courtesy goals from Kaleem Ullah and Saddam Hussain, who on the afternoon were their best players as well.
India made a slow start in their first match on Sunday, and the same pattern was visible yet again as Pakistan jumped off the blocks quicker, with Kaleem Ullah creating a couple of chances. The skipper then could and should have put Pakistan ahead, with Bilawal Ur Rehman picking his captain out perfectly with a square ball from the right, which Kaleem fired high from 12 yards.
That chance went begging minutes after Sunil Chhetri had fashioned India's first real opportunity, with the skipper's strike from 22 yards well tipped over by goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain.
India did have a better opportunity to open the scoring soon after but striker Haokip Thonhkosiem, replacing Robin Singh in the lineup, could not find a way past the goalkeeper. It was a wonderfully crafted move from India, pretty much their only good one in this match, with Lalrindika Ralte, who had a pretty forgettable game otherwise, finding Thonhkosiem near the halfway line.
The striker then found Chhetri, who then took his time before playing a nice through ball to his strike partner Thonhkosiem, who, clear on goal, just could not stroke the ball past Hussain.
Seconds after that big missed opportunity, India went a goal down in the 39th minute, and it was via a peach of a freekick from Kaleem Ullah, who curled one from 23 yards into the top corner giving Amrinder Singh absolutely no chance of getting near it, let alone make a save.
There were plenty of changes from both sides during the game, and a couple of India's new arrivals – Seiminlen Doungel and Siam Hanghal – did give their team that extra impetus in the second half, with the home side, again roared on by a wonderfully electric crowd, controlling the match a lot better.
Pakistan, on the other hand, happy with their 1-0 lead, looked to frustrate India with some timewasting tactics -- which the home crowd did not take too kindly to -- while gladly soaking up the pressure and springing on the counter.
Despite the bulk of the possession in the second 45, India never really seriously threatened the Pakistan goal, and it was the away team who fashioned the better opportunities with Saddam Hussain missing a wonderful chance, when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
However, the midfielder, who despite picking up a yellow card was kept in the game by coach Muhammad Shamlan Al-Mubarak, purely due to his obvious talent, would make up for that miss in the 90th minute, calmly slotting past Amrinder after a mistake from Sandesh Jhingan put him clear through on goal.
It was just rewards for Pakistan and India and Wim Koevermans have plenty of work and soul-searching to do before they even attempt to have a crack at clinching a medal at the Asian Games.