India registered their first win under Igor Stimac as the Blue Tigers defeated hosts Thailand with a solitary goal in the King's Cup third position match. A goal from Anirudh Thapa in the 16th minute gave the visitors the crucial lead that they maintained for the rest of the game.
Igor Stimac surprised everyone with his lineup, making 8 changes to the first XI. The big names like Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu were missing on the paper. The coach opted to test the whole squad and offered starts to Amrinder Singh, Adil Khan, Amarjit Singh, Vinit Rai, Anirudh Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Balwant Singh and Farukh Choudhary. By introducing Jackichand Singh and Manvir Singh in the second half, Stimac ensured game time to all his players except custodian Kamaljit Singh.
The game started off cold with Thailand having the better of in possession. Despite the early goal, India continued to be pressurised. However, the defense rose to the occasion at most times not letting down Amrinder Singh. The midfield too had faults but impressed even without a fully experienced presence at the front.
Stimac would be delighted with the result of the fixture which he tried experimenting. The game was moreover an opportunity for him to explore about the side. The team will now leave Thailand with a win under their belt.
Now, we look at 3 crucial reasons why the Blue Tigers will leave Thailand with a win under their belt.
#3 India's early goal played a vital role
India's only goal, from Anirudh Thapa, came in the 16th minute much against the flow of the game. It was Thailand who had the upper hand on the field until that moment. A free-kick from Raynier Fernandes couldn't be converted by Balwant Singh inside the box. The weak clearance by the Thailand defense offered Adil Khan a chance to extend it to Anirudh Thapa. The midfielder made no mistake in tapping the ball into the net.
India would have easily conceded if the breakthrough hadn't come at that point of time. A sudden reverse in the morale of the players was seen for at least some time after this. Thailand's lack of confidence in defense from the previous game got exposed.
India relied on the back-foot for the most part of the game. It was not so easy for the side to go out for a complete attack with Balwant Singh and Farukh Choudhary struggling at the other end. Hence, Sandesh Jhingan & Co chose to stay back and defend well with Thapa's cleverness in the 16th minute.