Not one, not two but we have three historic moments embracing the Indian Football as we step into 2019! With over 3000 spectators at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi & millions across the globe, our Indian football team thumped their dominance over Thailand in the Asian Cup 2019 opener as part of Group A tie.
The magic was created by none other than the striker Sunil Chhetri who struck twice in either half to inspire India to inflict a stunning 4-1 win over Thailand and hence go atop in the group.
But ! This wasn’t just it, with this the remarkable brace, Chhetri managed to overhaul Argentine star Lionel Messi in an epic list.
This is HUGEEE because with this he also becomes a special record holder in India’s first Asian Cup match win since June 1964.
This being his 66th international goal in his 104th appearance for the nation, he now stands only behind Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo who has 85 goals to his name.
Chhetri finished with a brace minutes after the second-half kicked off to once again take India to a lead in the game after the Thailand skipper had pulled off the equaliser in the 33rd minute of the game. With the goal, Chhetri took his Asian Cup goals tally to five, his previous three had come in 2011. He hence became India’s leading goalscorer in the competition.
India ran riot in the opponent’s half as Anirudh Thapa got his first goal for the country and Jeje Lalpekhlua ended his 10-month goal-less run with a sublime finish in the 80th minute, just two minutes after coming on to the pitch.
Among the two central defenders, Jhingan was particularly brilliant. He made some timely clearances and deft tackles to keep Thai players away. The performance of the two side-backs too was laudable, particularly Subhasish Bose. A special mention to defensive midfielder Pronay Halder, sure he may be too physical at times, but he won headers & also made a lot of tackles enabling an easier task for the back four.
There was a lot of concern about India’s defensive line-up before they came to the Asian Cup. But in the first match itself, our team has proved the doubters wrong. Not only did our defenders stand tall in crunching moments, but their lion-hearted performance surely gave a boost to India’s confidence ahead of the next match.
India will next play against hosts UAE on January 10 before taking on Bahrain on January 14.