Indian Football Team

India vs Myanmar: Three key battles that can decide the tie

Uttiyo Sarkar

March 22 2023
India vs Myanmar Three Key Battles Tri-Nation Friendly Tournament

The Blue Tigers have a lot of young blood in their arsenal.

India will play their first international match of 2023 when they host Myanmar in the opening game of the Tri-Nation Friendly Tournament on Wednesday, 22 March. The Blue Tigers will play their first game at the Khuman Lampak Stadium, Imphal and hope to get back to winning ways.

They’re facing a Myanmar side that has lost nine out of their last 11 games. They’ve played one game in 2023, which resulted in a bitter loss to Vietnam. Igor Stimac’s side, however, can’t take this game for granted. With a number of newcomers in the squad, a lot of players will be determined to make use of their opportunities to impress the manager.

The opening game of the tournament is expected to be an entertaining, action-packed encounter. There will be a few key battles inside the pitch, which could determine which team comes out on top. So let’s look at the three key battles for the India vs Myanmar clash.

3. Aung Kaung Mann vs Anwar Ali

Anwar Ali is coming on the back of a pretty solid Indian Super League (ISL) season. He recorded the most passes for any player in the ISL campaign and was defensively sturdy for FC Goa. Now he aims to prove his ability on the international stage. Ali will probably find a challenging task ahead against Myanmar and their centre-forward Aung Kaung Mann. The 25-year-old Customs United player contributed seven goals (five goals, two assists) in the Thai League 2 for his side this season. Mann is a rapid, decisive forward who can really work defenders with his proactive style.

Aung Kaung Mann (orange jersey). (Courtesy: Instagram)

His clever movement, build-up style and finishing ability can make him one to keep an eye out for. Ali proved himself capable of thriving under pressure in the ISL, where he pocketed many prominent foreign forwards. He’ll aim to do so against Myanmar, using his composed and assertive defensive technique. This duel between two hard-working, smart players can make for an enticing battle and one where Ali hopes to come out on top.

2. Anirudh Thapa vs Aung Thu

The game between India and Myanmar is expected to be an end-to-end, thrilling contest that should have a lot of goals. But the team who secures the majority of control in possession will come out on top. That is why the midfield battle in this game can play a key role over the result. Anirudh Thapa is the most experienced midfielder in Stimac’s squad and will hope to lead from the front. After enjoying a pretty good personal campaign with Chennaiyin FC, Thapa aims to entertain the Imphal crowd on Wednesday. But Thapa will have to work overtime to keep Myanmar midfielder Aung Thu quiet from influencing the game for his side.

Aung Thu (#9). (Courtesy: Alchetron)

Thu is creative and can adapt to situations well. The Lamphun Warrior star had one goal and one assist in nine Thai League games during the domestic campaign. He’s really smart and can conjure something out of nothing with his impressive passing ability and vision. Thapa needs to press him well and keep him from causing much trouble to his backline. Moreover, the midfielder also has to distribute the ball around well. Thapa will look to help India with progressing the ball from their backline to the front-line – while also using his set-piece ability to create major chances and sneaking into key areas to put his goal-scoring ability to use.

1. Lallianzuala Chhangte vs Nanda Kyaw

For Lallianzuala Chhangte, the Tri-Nation Friendly Tournament poses a huge opportunity to consolidate a permanent role in Stimac’s future plans. But for that, he’ll need to bring his ISL form to the international stages. Chhangte is coming off a brilliant domestic campaign in which he won the ‘Player of the League’ award. He scored 10 goals and provided six assists in the league.

Lallianzuala Chhangte. (Courtesy: AIFF Media)

In all competitions, he scored 17 goals and provided nine assists for Mumbai City FC. Chhangte has hit his peak and is at his ruthless best. But he’ll need to get the better off experienced Myanmar left-back Nanda Kyaw to cause chaos in Imphal. Kyaw is a national team regular since 2015 and made 19 appearances for his side. The Shan United player is experienced, versatile and real hard-working.

He has made 12 appearances in the AFC Cup in his career and knows the challenges of facing foreign opposition. Kyaw is not just aggressive and defensively proactive, but also a menace going forward – as he is able to operate a as winger! That means Chhangte will have his defensive duties fixed on keeping Kyaw quiet and stopping him from creating major chances with his crosses. But the 25-year-old’s prime objective will be to light up India’s attack. He’ll aim to use his clever movement, close control and dribbling ability to burst past bodies and use his brilliant goal-scoring technique to score some bangers against Myanmar.

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