The Blue Tigers were inspired by tactician Stephen Constantine’s shrewd team selection and produced a powerful second-half performance.
India clashed against Thailand as both teams got their respective AFC Asian Cup campaigns underway, with the Indian team winning the match 1-4. Sunil Chhetri blitzed his way into the Thai net and Indian hearts with a brace, as the talismanic forward made sure that his side started their tournament on the right note.
Watch: Thailand 1-4 India Goals and Highlights
We also saw the Anirudh Thapa show, as the young gun dominated the midfield and even scored a beauty of a goal, finishing off a move he himself began.
We look at how the young Indian side, the second youngest at the tournament fared on a scale of 10 in their first taste of continental success against Thailand.
Gurpreet was a pillar of strength at the back and was well-shielded by the back four. Apart from that one goal which caught him unawares, the big man did excellently to shut out any chance the Thais could perceive. Captained the side well, but had lesser influence than Chhetri on the players.
Pritam Kotal– 7.0
Pritam was always there to break up any attack that built up on his wing. He played a composed game and pressed very high. He could have done better to contribute in attack, but was exonerated by a brilliant Udanta. The ATK right-back made six interceptions, encouraging attacks in the second half.
Sandesh Jhingan– 7.5
Jhingan can give cricket great Rahul Dravid a run for his money in being called the Great Wall of India, as he was almost impenetrable in this game. The Kerala Blasters man had no competition in the physical department, as he clearly bettered the War Elephants and pushed the game forward by being involved in the build up. He made six clearances, thwarting everything Thailand threw at him.
Anas Edathodika– 7.0
Anas Edathodika hadn’t played a lot of competitive football and was a huge doubt among the Indian faithful, but his performance was anything but, as he killed it at the back. He stood solid and tackled hard, even charging to the halfway line to press and tackle the Thais into submission. Solidity personified.
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 6, 2019
Watch: Indian team’s Viking Clap at Asia Cup
Subhashish Bose– 8.0
Bose carried forward his Mumbai City form into the game, as he was outstanding in defence and was clearly involved on the overlap with Holicharan Narzary. The gameplay of the young defender should make him an international hot commodity as he was beyond outstanding. Bose made five clearances, four tackles and two interceptions in what was another solid defensive display.
Pronay Halder– 7.5
Midfield marshaled to perfection and guided to victory by this man, Pronay Halder. The entire game was won in the middle of the park and the ATK defensive midfielder showed all his guile and skill to dominate this part of the pitch beyond comparison. Halder made four tackles, winning the ball back on multiple occasions. He was a star shining brightly in the middle of the desert.
Anirudh Thapa– 8.5
Three duels won, one goal scored and directly involved in all of India’s key passes, Thapa showed why he has matured beyond his years. Creating opportunities and holding an incredible passing accuracy of 60.9 %, the 21-year-old was no match for the opposition.
He surely looks like the worthy successor of Sunil Chhetri.
Ashique Kuruniyan– 9.0
A surprise inclusion who was played out of position, Ashique grabbed the opportunity with both hands and was a joy to watch. His swift movement and wonderful display won him the penalty, that Chhetri converted with ease for India’s first. The boy has come of age in this match.
Udanta Singh– 7.5
Udanta looked out of place in the first half and was tackled out of contention. But, in the second 45, we saw the Bengaluru Flash who streaked through the opposition and even assisted two goals for Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua, which were put into the back of the net with ease due to the setup. He had a 73% passing accuracy while winning four duels as well.
Halicharan Narzary– 7.0
A stable influence on the left wing and also a good defensive dropper, Narzary enjoyed his game and was clearly the man who has always caught Constantine’s eye. The winger played throughout the left wing and overlapped well with Bose, also providing cover when necessary. A truly dogged display.
Sunil Chhetri– 9.5
The Bengaluru man’s talismanic presence throughout the 90 minutes helped his side to win with much aplomb
Captain, Leader, Legend! Sunil Chhetri displayed all his skills, calm and beauty on the pitch. Despite not having the armband, nothing stopped him from commanding the troops around and making sure that their gameplay was just the way he would have loved.
The big man stood out and improved the standards of those around him. He was involved in constant conversation with his teammates on the way to the dugout in the first half and that might have influenced the huge turnaround in the attacking confidence of the team in the second 45. Legend Indeed!
Rowllin Borges– 7.0
Came in to stabilize the midfield and did a wonderful job in seeing the game off, like Constantine would have wanted. Borges wasn’t missed due to Pronay and Thapa shining.
Jeje Lalpekhlua– 8.0
What a way to score his first goal in 10 months! Jeje latched on to the cross by Udanta and drilled it home like he is used to. The Mizo Sniper has struck again!!
The youngster came at the time when the game was already over in his side’s favour.
Chatchai Budprom- 6.0
The goalkeeper pulled off a few saves and was confident on the ball, but had no reply to the Indian talisman, Chhetri.
Theeraton Bunmathan- 5.5
He was tormented continually by the combination of Udanta and Thapa who did not give him even a moment to breathe.
Chaelrmpong Kerdkaew- 5.0
The young defender was thriving in the first half, but as the second began he lost his bearings against the pacey Indian attackers.
Pansa Hemviboon- 4.0
He did little to stabilize the defensive woes of his team and was guilty of losing possession as well as his position. Got a yellow for his rash tackle on Narzary.
Thitipan Puangchan- 6.0
The only one apart from Teerasil to torment the Indian defence, but was thwarted for the most part.
Adisak Kraisorn- 5.0
He was lost in the midfield as soon as Thapa began dominating the proceedings.
Teerasil Dangda- 7.5
The only ray of hope in the supposed Thai “golden generation” as he showed his quality and guile. However, Teerasil was left standing as the lone man holding the Thai torch in a match where he opened his account on the continental stage. Great player in an average side.
Sanrawat Dechmtir- 4.5
He took the first yellow of the game as his haywire tackle was punished and he was substituted at the hour mark.
Chanathip Songkarsin- 5.0
The midfielder had a decent first half, but looked lost after the interval
Had almost no impact on the team that defended like giants and was a sorry figure in midfield.
Tristan Do- 5.0
Probably regrets playing the game after a below-par performance.
Supachai Jaided- 5.0
Was lost in the middle of the park alongside Sanrawat and was on the field doing very little.
Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri- 5.0
He came in at the 58th minute, but couldn’t have an impact on the game.
Sumanya Purisai- 5.0
He came in at the 79th minute, but it was too late as the game had already been decided.
Siroch Chatthong- 5.0
He came in at the 73rd minute instead of Chanthip, but couldn’t find himself in the game.