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Thailand star Chanathip Songkrasin confident of defeating India in AFC Asian Cup opener

Written by: Neil Talnikar

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The 25-year-old was recently voted as the most valuable player of the season by his Consadole Sapporo teammates.

The AFC Asian Cup is in line to kick-off on 5th January as hosts United Arab Emirates take on Bahrain in the opening game at the Zayed Sports City Stadium. The other two teams in the group (A), Thailand and India, lock horns on the following day at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Ahead of the intriguing fixture, Thailand star Chanathip Songkrasin opened up his side’s chances in the group stage especially against the Blue Tigers and the White Jersey. Reports from the official website of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) state that the Thai midfielder is confident that his team can defeat India despite having little knowledge of the Tigers’ abilities.

I don’t have much information about India but the scouting team will show us their videos soon. The first game is always tough but our team has been improving and I’m sure we can earn three points from the opening game,” said the former Muangthong United winger.

Chanathip, who currently plays for J1 League side Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, was recently voted as the team’s most valuable player of the season by his teammates. The 25-year-old arrived at the club on loan last season and was offered a permanent contract in July last year. Since then, he has gone on to net nine goals in as many as 31 appearances for the club across all competitions.


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Although being confident of beating the Blue Tigers, Chanathip looked wary of the threat that UAE can pose for the War Elephants. “UAE will be tough to play. All their players have individual talents and are physically big. UAE has a tough league and their players have been training together for a long time,” he said ahead of their tie on 14th January.

Meanwhile, the War Elephants are in a fine form of late as they are yet to face defeat since they lost 2-0 to China in June last year. Beating the likes of Indonesia, Singapore along with a 7-0 mauling of Timor-Leste in the AFF Championship while drawing against Philippines and Malaysia- in the semi-final of the tournament, Thailand may cause problems to their opponents in the Asian Cup.

Speaking about his team’s preparations for the same, Chanathip threw light on how they are focussing on the attacking aspects of the game. At the same time, he also issued a warning to his side to not lose attention from the defence as errors may cost them dearly. “We’ve started to train more (on our) attacks. At the Asian level, we have to be more aggressive but also be consistent. If we make mistakes, we could be punished,”

Published: Wed Jan 02, 2019 03:06 PM IST

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