Indian striker Jeje Lalpekhlua has revealed that the emphatic 4-1 win against Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup opener was a massive confidence boost for the entire Indian football team. The Indian tigers take on hosts United Arab Emirates in their second group stage encounter on Thursday.
Stephen Constantine’s boys put up a stunning display over the weekend as the Indian football team registered an impressive 4-1 win against Thailand in the opening game of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup which is being played in the UAE. This was India’s first win in the Asian showpiece
“It was an amazing feeling for us to win the first game for India after 55 years. It is always brilliant to start the tournament with a win and this was a big confidence boost for us. However, the Thailand game is gone and we need to concentrate on UAE,” Jeje told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview.
A brace from captain Sunil Chhetri, followed by goals from Anirudh Thapa and Jeje helped India register a memorable win against their Thai opponents. Statistically, Stephen Constantine’s side did end the match with a much lesser percentage of the possession than their lower ranked opponents, but some brilliant finishing by the strikers saw the Blue Tigers register their first win of the campaign.
“The way we played in the matches before the Asian Cup made us believe in ourselves and in the last three years, it is quite clear that we have made a lot of improvements. Against Thailand, we did not have a huge number of chances to score but we converted them well and it worked in our favour.
“But, there were some places where we were found lacking in the first game and we will be working on them. Although we won the game with a big margin, the coach has pointed out places that bothered us against Thailand and our target is to produce a stronger game in the next matches,” Jeje added.
Next for Chhetri & Co. is a daunting encounter against hosts UAE who will be in the hunt for their first win of the competition after they drew the first game against Bahrain thanks to a last-gasp penalty. When asked about the match, Jeje made it clear that the team is looking to rectify the mistakes
“In the last game, we made some mistakes. This time, we are facing a quality side like UAE and they will also have the home advantage. So, we needed to come back with a stronger plan against them. Personally, I would love to score more goals but the team’s performance is the first priority,” he concluded.
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