Hero Tri-Nation Cup

Anirudh Thapa: We’re playing two attacking midfielders, and that makes my work simple

Sathvik Bharadwaj

April 2 2023
Anirudh Thapa Hero Tri-Nation Tournament Hero Intercontinental Cup 2023

The midfielder spoke to AIFF about the team’s win over Myanmar and the upcoming Tri-Nation cup clash with the higher-ranked Kyrgyz Republic.

The Blue Tigers, back in action in the March International Window, were cheered on by the fans at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal, Manipur, where India earned a 1-0 victory.

Despite dominating the proceedings, it was a night of toil for India, as they looked to break down a low block by the Myanmar defence, which was eventually done by midfielder Anirudh Thapa.

Happy with a good start to the tournament

“I’m happy to score, but we came here to win, and that’s the most important thing. It was a good start to our campaign,” said Thapa. “The boys came after months together and showed character, and we were all happy to get the first win tonight.”

The Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament is only half done for the Blue Tigers as they have another match against the Kyrgyz Republic coming up on March 28, 2023. While the mood amongst the lads was one of contentment, the focus shifted squarely to the next match.

Focus on the next game

“We had a good game, but now our task is to recover well, focus, and look at the plus points and try to improve on them,” said Thapa. “For sure, we will try to do our best.”

The National Team last played six months ago in Ho Chi Minh City, where they drew with Singapore, and suffered a defeat against Vietnam. The 25-year-old expressed the importance that the Blue Tigers keep playing regularly at an international level.

Playing against higher-ranked nations

“It’s always a moment of pride to don the National Team jersey and play for India, but the more important thing is that we need to get more matches at every available opportunity,” said Thapa.

“Playing against good teams helps us not only raise our level of performance, but also to adapt to different pressure situations that will eventually make us a better, more prepared team,” said the Blue Tigers medio.

“It’s important that we use the coming International windows as well to get as many matches as we can, and help the coaches frame the right team for the future,” he said.

Coming back from a long domestic season

While the domestic season is not yet over in India, the national team players have done admirably to come straight from their club setups to slot in and perform in a slightly different environment for India.

“It’s always difficult to come in the middle of a season and switch from club to national team with different systems in both,” said Thapa. “That’s why we need more time with the national team to gel well together.

“The understanding between the players is definitely there, and they are all smart enough. The coach also knows what football demands in recent times, and that’s how we all are doing well. every time we come to the National camp, our strategy is to try and play with the ball and that’s how we are all doing well here,” he said.

A differing role for Thapa

While his own role may be a little different, Thapa himself is enjoying the extra freedom that he is getting. “We’re playing two attacking midfielders, and that makes my work simple. Just get the ball and move forward. I tried and did that, which made my game easier,” said Thapa.

A good performance at the Khuman Lampak was also affected by the crowd that cheered the Blue Tigers on to a win against Myanmar. Having the 12th man behind the team is always helpful, believes Thapa.“The atmosphere was great in the first game, and I hope it continues from here on. The fans were just great, and we were happy that we could give them a win,” said Thapa. “They acted as the 12th man, so a massive thank you to them.”

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