Intercontinental Cup 2019, India 1-1 Syria: 5 Hits & Flops
India ended their Hero Intercontinental Cup journey with a 1-1 draw against higher-ranked Syria. The Blue Tigers took the lead through a header goal from Narender Gahlot in the second half. Tajikistan equalized with a penalty through Firas Alkhatib. Tajikistan will now face DPR Korea in the final of the tournament on Friday.
Igor Stimac fielded his best XI, making eight changes to the starting lineup. The positivity in the teamsheet was evident on the field right from kickoff. The side worked well as a unit. The midfield coordinated well with the defenders to restrict the Syrian attackers. India's attack too was strengthened by the likes of Udanta Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte.
India's goal came in the 52nd minute, through a corner kick well converted by center-back Narender Gahlot. However, India's dream of a victory in the tournament was shattered when Jerry Lalrinzuala took down Firas Alkhatib inside the box. The penalty awarded was easily converted by Firas in the 79th minute.
The manager will be delighted with the improved performance. The players displayed better fitness and agility throughout the game.
Now, we look at the hits and flops from the game.
#5 Hit - Anirudh Thapa
Anirudh Thapa has once again proved that he will be the driving force in India's midfield in the coming years. Even without an eye-grabbing performance, Thapa made valuable contributions at the heart of the midfield. The 21-year old started the game against Tajikistan but was benched against DPR Korea.
The difference was evident at the Indian midfield in the second fixture as they lacked movements and creativity at the middle. This had a solution when Thapa paved way for numerous movements between the defenders and attacking midfielders.
The Chennaiyin FC player developed good understanding with Amarjit Singh Kiyam. The duo created a solid defensive shield before the stopper backs. Thapa also extended options in the attack to Sahal Abdul Samad and Lallianzuala Chhangte.
Anirudh Thapa remained a silent, but pivotal presence on the field for India.