India started their AFC Asian Cup campaign in the best way possible as they thrashed Thailand 4-1 to keep themselves in a place where a draw could pretty much suffice their spot into the knockout stage. However, the better news for the fans was the confidence most players exuded on the pitch.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (6/10) – Stephen Constantine’s decision to hand the arm band to the 26-year-old was largely disagreed upon as Sunil Chhetri was clearly the better option. However, the Bengaluru FC custodian did his job decently despite being called into action very little. He could make only two saves, one punch, one clearance and one catch. But, points will be cut for the way India conceded the equalizer, as Sandhu looked indecisive and in no man’s land leaving the goal wide open.
Pritam Kotal (7/10) - His performance proves that Constantine was right in selecting players regardless of their ISL form. Playing alongside the likes of Jhingan, the full-back was getting back his mojo winning seven duels, two aerial duels with a 73% passing accuracy. However, he also lost eight duels in the process and looked outpaced at times against the swift Thailand wingers.
Sandesh Jhingan (8/10) - There is something about the mercurial centre-half that sets him apart. And it is not because of his talent, but his ability to inspire his teammates with momentous actions. Yesterday too, Jhingan has won only three duels, the same number of aerial duels, and managing six clearances in all. But, most of them were when he was the last man defending or at the face of an imminent goal, which more than anything fired up his teammates.
Anas Edathodika (8/10) - The man from Kerala wasn’t even the first choice for David James in the Indian Super League, managing just five games in the last two months. But, he has proved that he is a terrific team player and in doing that he, at times, outperforms his teammates. Yesterday was nothing different when he won four duels, won two crucial tackles and made five clearances.
Subhasish Bose (7/10) – If there is one Indian defender who can be labelled as the “no-nonsense” one, it is the Mumbai City FC enforcer. Playing as the left back, Bose always had to remain cautious about his opponents’ pace and hence, remained as deep down the field as possible - something we haven’t seen is his Mumbai City FC stint. He has exacted four tackles, and made five clearances.
Pronay Halder (8.5/10) - Easily the most influential player for India yesterday, the defensive midfielder was responsible for breaking numerous Thailand counter attacks keeping the likes of Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri always on their toes in the attacking third. He exacted four tackles, winning 10 duels and five aerial duels, and also ended up taking a shot albeit off the target.
Anirudh Thapa (9/10) – Halder might have been the most efficacious player, but a 20-year-old Thapa should be credited for carrying out his offensive and defensive duties. Playing the creator’s role of the two midfielders, Thapa made four interceptions and created two chances. He had a 47% passing accuracy in Thailand’s defensive half that was instrumental in India keeping a monumental pressure throughout the second half. His beautiful chip was the cherry on the cake.
Halicharan Narzary (8/10) – Narzary could easily be stated as the most invisible player in ISL if looked into his Kerala Blasters stint so far. And the fact that Constantine had the vibrant likes of Lallianzuala Chhangte and Thoi Singh to choose from and still selected Narzary was also criticized by many. But, Narzary brings one thing that the adventurous youngsters don’t – balance. He won nine duels, and six aerial duels and when India were on top their game, Narzary even got an assist.
Udanta Singh (8/10) – We didn’t see a modicum of Udanta Singh of the Bengaluru FC in the first half. The winger couldn’t get many balls in open spaces and whenever he got, his markers flooded around him suffocating him. However, after Ashique Kuruniyan proved to be lethal on the other flank, Udanta saw less pressure in the second half and started pulling strings. Udanta had 73% passing accuracy in the attacking third and he also ended with an assist.
Ashique Kuruniyan (8/10) - The biggest thing working for the FC Pune City creator was his mystery. Hardly any team in the Asian Cup is acquainted with Indian football’s Gen Y players that are coming in thick and fast, thanks to ISL. Hence, Kuruniyan’s strength and marauding runs down the left Thailand stunned. He contributed defensively as well and his quick thinking helped India get the opening goal.
Sunil Chhetri (9/10) – The Blue Tigers have come a long way in terms of punching above their weight and Chhetri has been the real reason for it. If you have to bank on one Indian player to mandatorily perform on the crucial stage, it has to be him. After keeping his calm from the spot, Chhetri came up with a world class strike minutes into the second half. He also got an assist at the end.
Jeje Lalpekhlua (8/10)- His contribution to the game was definitely minimal but he deserves a mention only because of his stupendous goal. He came on in the 78th minute and took just two minutes to score a
Rowlin Borges (N/A) - He was brought on as a late substitute to give Thapa some much-needed rest after he ran his socks off for the first 78 minutes.
Germanpreet Singh (N/A) - Like Borges, Germanpreet was sent on with three minutes of regulation time remaining to see out the game. He did not have too much time to have any sort of impact on the game.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi