Asian Cup 2019: Thailand vs India – 5 talking points
India got their best possible start in the Asian Cup by thrashing Thailand 4-1 in their first group match at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 6th January.
This was India’s first victory in the tournament in 55 years and also the biggest winning margin in an Asian Cup match.
It was a game of two halves. Thailand made their opportunities count in the first half, while Indian players completely dominated the second period with three goals to their name.
There were so many concerns regarding this Indian team. Performances of some of the players came under scanner and not many were hoping for a winning start. But the players proved their doubters wrong with an exceptional performance against a formidable opponent.
India took the lead from a penalty through Sunil Chhetri in the 27th minute but Teerasil Dangda of Thailand equalised six minutes later.
India got their lead back again in the 47th minute from the same man. After that, India ran riot in the opponent’s half as Anirudh Thapa got his first goal for the country and Jeje Lalpekhlua ended his 10-month goal-less run with a sublime finish in the 80th minute, just two minutes after coming on to the pitch.
India, at least for now, lead the table with hosts UAE coming next in their plate. Let us look at the five talking points from the match.
#5 Defenders assure but need to be more cautious
There was a lot of concern about India’s defensive line-up before they came to the Asian Cup. Of course, the poor performance of Sandesh Jhingan in the Indian Super League and lack of game-time of Anas Edathodika was a headache.
But in the first match, both of them proved their doubters wrong. Not only the defenders stood tall in crunching moments, but their lion-hearted performance will surely boost India’s confidence ahead of the next match.
Among the two central defenders, Jhingan was particularly brilliant. He made some timely clearances and deft tackles to keep Thai players away. Anas was struggling in the initial period but quickly regained his confidence as the match went on. The performance of the two side-backs too was laudable, particularly Subhasish Bose, who was in sublime form with Mumbai City.
Credits should be given to defensive midfielder Pronay Halder. Pronay may be too physical at times, but he works very hard on the field. He won headers, made a lot of tackles to make the task easier for the back four.