AFC Asian Cup 2019: 3 reasons why India beat Thailand 4-1
Having last played in 2011 and finishing 16th, India came into the tournament looking to better their dismal record in the competition and hopefully salvage at least a point in the opening match of the tournament.
With the speculation revolving over the possibility of Balwant and Jeje in the starting XI, Stephen Constantine decided to start with FC Pune City’s Ashique Kuruniyan instead in the left-winger position along with Subhasish Bose over Narayan Das in left back.
Having expected to be defensive against a formidable Thai side, India looked confident with the ball with instances of attacking football in the early minutes of the game. Even though Thailand did test the Indian defence on occasions, the defenders managed to hold Thailand from getting into the lead.
The scoring opened from an unlikely Indian lead as Ashique Kuruniyan managed to earn a penalty off a handball from defender Theerathon Bunmathan inside the box, to which Chhetri sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to put India 1-0 up.
Thailand equalised soon after six minutes as a curling freekick from Theerathon Bunmathan was headed into the goal by Teerasil Dangda over a poorly positioned Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
With both the teams going into the halftime tied at 1-1 the game looked quite open and all three results possible by the end of the next 45. When the second half did commence India unfolded a totally different story altogether with an absolutely dominating display on the pitch.
55 seconds into the second half, Sunil Chhetri scored again, firing from 18-yards to put India 2-1 up. 13-minutes later Thapa sealed the victory with a calm finish off an assist from Udanta with Jeje putting the cherry on top, scoring 10 minutes later to finish the game 4-1 for India.
With that win, India sits on top of Group with an important goal difference of +3. Even if the match had its fair share of moments, here are the 3 important reasons why India could script a historic victory in the game.
#1 A superb defensive performance
India came into the game with an expectation to be the defensive side of the two and consequently demanded a lot from the defenders to step up for the game.
Constantine started off with the likely pair of Jhingan and Anas in the middle and Pritam Kotal in the right-back position. Although many speculated Narayan Das to get a start Subhasish Bose instead got the opportunity to patrol India’s left-back position and accordingly did a stellar job to keep the Thai attack at bay.
The defenders started cautiously and faced a stronger resilience in the first half as opposed to the second half of the game. The Thailand attack did put the defence to test early on in the game with multiple long balls and shots from outside of the box but none could penetrate the goal thanks to the constant resistance from the back four.
The Indian defence was disciplined in their approach, achieving a high work rate and showed great work ethic throughout the game. Even though they faced small niggles during the game, the camp would be patting their back with their performance on the field today. The only goal that was conceded today can be credited to the sublime cross by Theerathon Bunmathan rather than being called a defensive error.
All in all the team would be very happy for the performance they put up today but they know they would face sterner tests in the upcoming matches of the tournament but they will be very confident going into the second game.