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AFC Asian Cup 2019, India vs Thailand, Match highlights: Sunil Chhetri inspires team to terrific win in opener

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FP Sports January 06, 2019 18:02:02 IST
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AFC Asian Cup 2019, India vs Thailand, Match highlights: Sunil Chhetri inspires team to terrific win in opener

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Jan 06, 2019 - 21:27 (IST)

That's all we have from here. Hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the game. It's a match to remember! We will see you again when India take on hosts United Arab Emirates on 10 January. Can't wait for that one. 

Goodbye, guys! 

Jan 06, 2019 - 21:24 (IST)

Surely, this win will stay for the longest time in the minds of Indian football team's fans. Mind you, not many were giving India the chance at the Asian Cup. Despite their rankings, India were not the favourites to make it to the next round. But when it mattered the most, the team played like they belong in the biggest stage. Masterclass from the inspirational Sunil Chhetri. He scored two but played a role in all the four goals. Anirudh Thapa with a beautiful chip and Jeje, the Mizo Sniper as they call him, ended his goal drought with a superb finish. 

India have taken giant strides in making it to the next round. Unless they lose by heavy margins against Bahrain and UAE, Stephen Constantine's team will most likely feature in the Round of 16.  

Jan 06, 2019 - 21:06 (IST)

THAILAND 1-4 INDIA

Here's the Group A points table after first round of matches. India on top with three points, followed by Bahrain, hosts UAE and Thailand. 

Jan 06, 2019 - 20:59 (IST)

THAILAND 1-4 INDIA

Sunil Chhetri: "Feels good. It's a tough pool and all three teams are better than us. We will fought till the end. There were so good with the ball and we discussed it in the meeting after first-half. I'm so happy for the boys. I want to thank our fans. Keep supporting us and we will give our best on the field."

Jan 06, 2019 - 20:54 (IST)

THAILAND 1-4 INDIA

What a performance! Where did that come from? Huge credit must go to coach Stephen Constantine who has forged a real unit for the AFC Asian Cup. It's about time his critics take a back seat and revisit their stance.

Jan 06, 2019 - 20:53 (IST)

THAILAND 1-4 INDIA

FULL-TIME! What a win for the Indian football team! This one will stay for the longest time. Four sublime goals. Two from legend Sunil Chhetri, one each from Anirudh Thapa and Jeje. 

Jan 06, 2019 - 20:47 (IST)

90' THAILAND 1-4 INDIA

Credit to India for taking their chances in the second-half. Chhetri, Udanta, Pronnay Haldar have been superb in the match. Something went terribly wrong for Thailand in the second-half. This is not the same team that played the first 45 minutes. 
 
Three minutes of added time! 

Jan 06, 2019 - 20:40 (IST)

83' THAILAND 1-4 INDIA

It's 4-1! If India don't concede any further goals, this win a gigantic step towards securing a Round of 16 berth. Remember four out of the six third-placed team qualify and with this goal difference, India's chances will highly increase. However, heading to the top spot in Group A, India would be excused to aim higher!

Jan 06, 2019 - 20:39 (IST)

81' THAILAND 1-4 INDIA

GOAAAAAL! JEJE SCORES! Can you believe it? Thailand are rattled. 

Jeje collected the ball on the edge of the box and makes no mistake in converting the chance. 

Jan 06, 2019 - 20:36 (IST)

78' THAILAND 1-3 INDIA

Two changes for India!

Jeje and Rowlin Borges replace Ashique and goal-scorer Anirudh Thapa.

Preview: Underdogs India will look at their impressive results in recent months for inspiration when they open their AFC Asian Cup football campaign against Thailand on Sunday.

With the continental showpiece event being expanded to 24 teams for the first time from the earlier 16, the Indian side have a real chance to make it to the knock-out rounds, which will be a first after their runners-up finish in 1964.

Both in 1984 and 2011, India were knocked out of the tournament at the group stage.

The two top sides from each of the six groups made up of four countries as well as four third-place teams will advance to the Round of 16.

India, playing in their fourth Asian Cup, are entering the tournament on the back of a goal-less stalemates against World Cup-winning Italian coach Marcello Lippi's China and Oman in the lead-up to the tournament. They lost narrowly (1-2) to Jordan in their third big match ahead of the Asian Cup.

These results were preceded by a 13-match unbeaten run in international friendly matches and the Intercontinental Cup at home last summer.

Constantine's players will also be keen to improve upon the disastrous performance of the country in 2011 edition, when it badly lost all its group matches.

Sunday's Group A match against Thailand at the Al Nahyan Stadium will be crucial for India as a positive result will boost the Stephen Constantine-coached team's chances of making it to the Round of 16.

If India beat Thailand on Sunday, then a draw in the remaining two matches – against hosts UAE (10 January) and Bahrain (14 January) – could be enough for them to qualify for the knock-out round.

Defensive discipline will be one of the key factors for India against a Thailand team that scored a lot of goals at the ASEAN Football Federation Championship.

India are placed 97th in the FIFA charts compared to Thailand's 118, but rankings will hardly matter in the continental showpiece. In fact, India are the second highest-ranked team in the group after the UAE.

Historically, India and Thailand have played against each other 24 times with the South East Asian nation winning on 12 occasions. India have won five times while the remaining seven were drawn.

But the two sides are more or less unknown quantities as they have played very few matches against each other in recent times. The last time the two sides played against each other was in 2010. Thailand won both matches – 2-1 and 1-0.

The last time India beat Thailand was way back in the 1986 Merdeka Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

On the eve of match, Constantine said that he "can't wait for the match to begin".

Asked about Thailand losing to Oman a few days ago while India drew with the West Asian country, Constantine said, "They are different teams with a different set of players. Oman were trying out different players, and so were Thailand."

India will look to their talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri to get them the goals, but the recent form of his strike partner Jeje Lalpekhlua could be a cause for concern. The Mizo, though, has it in him to produce an impressive performance.

Sandesh Jhingan has spearheaded the defence well and he will pair up with Anas Anas Edathodika at the heart of the backline. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been in top form as the last defensive bulwark.

Constantine will look forward to his first-choice wingers, Udanta Singh and Halicharan Narzary, to supply enough deliveries upfront for Chhetri and Lalpekhlua.

For Chhetri, this will be his second appearance in the Asian Cup after the 2011 edition. He is the only player in this team to have played in the 2011 tournament. Goalkeeper Gurpreet was in the 2011 squad but did not play a single match.

On the other hand, Thailand's best result in the continental championship came in 1972 when they finished third. Since then, they have failed to overcome the group stage hurdle in all the five occasions they qualified for the final round.

Thailand have come into the tournament after failing to defend their AFF Championships title, losing to Malaysia in the semifinals but that team did not have four key players who were based abroad.

But head coach Milovan Rajevac, who guided Ghana to quarterfinals in 2010 World Cup, named all the foreign-based players for the Asian Cup to strengthen the Thailand team though Belgium based goalkepeer Kawin Thamsatchanan was ruled out last week due to injury, which may turn out to be a boon for India.

The South East Asian side still have captain and striker Teerasil Dangda, Theerathon Bunmathan and Chanathip Songkrasin -- all plying trade in Japan's top-tier J League.

The 30-year-old Dangda, who currently plays for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J-League, is the only surviving member from Thailand's last Asian Cup appearance in 2007 when the country played host to the tournament.

Midfielder Songkrasin is currently a Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo player in the J League while full-back Bunmathan plays for Vissel Kobe on loan.

A lot of travelling fans – the Blue Pilgrims – have already landed in UAE to cheer for India. A lot of expatriate Indians are also expected to throng the Al Nahyan Stadium to support their team.

With inputs from PTI

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