India started their warm-up campaign for AFC Asian Cup in the Intercontinental Cup in the most brilliant way possible as they disseminated Chinese Taipei 5-0 at the Mumbai Football Arena. They face New Zealand next in the tournament as Sunil Chhetri looks to be in petrifying form.
India’s attack shows tremendous composure under pressure
Though India’s 1-2 defeat to Kyrgyzstan in their last qualifying group stage match of the Asian Cup in Bishkek ended their 13-match winning streak, the composure with which the side played was uncanny. Though India had the psychological advantage coming into the game, given their superiority in rank over all the three sides visiting them, the free-flowing attacking trio put up one of the most eye-soothing displays at the Mumbai Football Arena. Chinese Taipei
Despite scoring five goals in the game, the post-match talks would be about the misses and correctly so for the ocean of space Indian midfielders were given in the game. Jeje Lalpekhlua and Udanta Singh were given enough space and time to overlap continuously with Halicharan Narzary controlling the midfield in his own sweet time. Taipei’s two
Sunil Chhetri cannot be surpassed now
The Indian skipper was a notch over every single player today. Though he would need to take a hard look at his misses, which started as early as the third minute in the game, he can take solace in his sublime hat-trick. The manner in which he collected the ball from Jeje for the first goal before going in a tussle with a defender and winning it before slotting it past Taipei goalkeeper W. Pan through the only gap that was there for a mini-second in the whole action was worth a sight. Chhetri made it look effortless stating the fact yet again that how important he would be in India’s AFC Asian Cup campaign. The second goal looked scrappy in the first instance but it needed a good amount of precision and pace from his laces to squeeze the ball through Pan’s legs from a very acute angle. It originated from yet another beautiful one-touch play between Jeje and Chhetri.
His third goal came in the second-half, a gap which included in the probability of the miss of the match. Chhetri hadn’t scored a hattrick for India in the last eight years and the miss looked like a harbinger of a similar instance. However, Chhetri has evolved enormously over the years and he looked unflinching in his play as he tried setting up a few only to see his clubmate Udanta scoring a solo brilliance two minutes into the game. Chettri’s moment came in the 60th minute and he looked like the man who knew the outcome as soon as he had collected the ball. He cut back from one defender coming at his foot before banging it into the goal with aplomb. His goal tally has reached 59 now as he sits with some of the world’s greatest footballers for being top scorers for their country.
India look sharp despite limited national football
With the Indian Super League encompassing four months with new teams included, the biggest sufferer was definitely the Indian national side. Stephen Constantine should be immensely credited for the brilliant outcome that he has managed to pull out from his players in the qualifying stages of the AFC Asian Cup. After losing to Kyrgyzstan in their last game in March, India needed to give a strong reply and today’s result was exactly that. Constantine had earlier stated that their