Anirudh Thapa and defender Adil Khan were the star performers as India won the third place play-off against Thailand in the Kings Cup as new coach Igor Stimac claimed his first win as Indian football team's coach.
Thapa struck in the 17th minute after which Adil came up with an incredible defensive performance in order to hand the Blue Tigers a confidence boosting win.
The Croatian coach made as many as eight changes to the starting XI that went down 3-1 against Curacao. Amrinder Singh started in goal. Rahul Bheke, Adil Khan, Sandesh Jhingan and Subashish Bose formed a four-man backline. Vinit Rai slotted in in defence with Amarjit Singh playing the free role in midfield.
Farukh Choudhary and Raynier Fernandes claimed a spot on the flanks while Anirudh Thapa took up the role of an attacking midfielder. Balwant Singh started as a sole striker upfront.
India started dominating the game right from kick-off. One major change to note under Stimac's leadership is that instead of resorting to long balls, Stimac directed his team to keep the ball on the ground and maintain possession.
In the 17th minute, Thapa opened the scoring for India after latching on to a cross from Adil Khan at the far post. Raynier's free-kick was half-heartedly cleared by Thailand which ultimately fell for Khan, who sent in low cross towards Thapa, who just tapped in to give India the lead.
India should have doubled their lead just before half-time after Farukh broke free on the counter. The winger was one-on-one with the keeper and yet chose to pass it on to Balwant. But his pass was too weak and which allowed Adisorn the time to clear his lines.
Thailand did claw their way back into the game as the Indian team grew tired in the second half, however they could not come up with an equalising goal, this handing the Blue Tigers an important win. India will return to action on July 7 in the Intercontinental Cup which will be hosted at the TranStadia Arena in Ahmedabad.
FULL TIME! And that's the end of that! 🤩— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 8, 2019
5⃣ Goals #BlueTigers 🇮🇳 have earned their 2⃣nd consecutive victory against @Changsuek_TH 🇹🇭
🇹🇭 0-1 🇮🇳#THAIND #KingsCup 👑 #BlueTigers 🐯 #BackTheBlue 💙 #IndianFootball ⚽ pic.twitter.com/1vgRncG1ef
Here are some of the fan reactions as India beat Thailand:
RIP THAILAND AND THIER MANAGERS🙏🙏🙏— Jeet Shile (@Shile_Jeet99) June 8, 2019
Brillant lads! Beating the Thai's at their own home. Stimac is the man for the job!— Arindam (@Arindam9029) June 8, 2019
A good result considering it was an experimental India team.— Madrid June 1 (@DishuMaan) June 8, 2019
Brilliant performance, for me #AdilKhan was at his best.— Aiyappa MM (Hari) 🇮🇳 (@Aiyappa_MM) June 8, 2019
Good to see the 2nd team put up such a valiant effort and defeat the hosts to end the #KingsCup on a high... Under @stimac_igor, we can see hope that yes, even we can do it. Long way to go still, but definitely the destination is not impossible to achieve! #IndianFootball— Sayan Dey (@sayan_dey) June 8, 2019
Just find a real replacment of Chetri (I mean like our own Messi/Ronaldo i.e, next level of Chetri) then Indian team will look just perfect. AIFF/Coach should work to find such player in next 2-3 yrs & @IndSuperLeague should play more Indians as "Forward" than foreigners to help.— UB (@UB49564297) June 8, 2019
Me whenever Thailand were playing cross balls, especially in final moments: pic.twitter.com/Z871L5fgT2— Dhaval (@MEMExFeed) June 8, 2019
Great win. BUT not want again that type of clueless defending as was in last 30 mintuts, need better full backs, better tactics.— V.K.Singh (@poberty_18) June 8, 2019
Though we won not a confident win,no Spark,no energy,missed Chettri,ball distribution was also poor,without udanta our wing play was also not good— Sagar Rathore (@SagarRa67724353) June 8, 2019
Adil Khan should had player instead of pronay halder in the asian cup match against Bahrain— VAR (@soham_samant) June 8, 2019
I think that's because we played without our main players?— Jaisurya (@apparacendi) June 8, 2019
We had our perfact squad other than chettri in second half, still our passing was pathetic.— Arpit Dubey (@ArpitDubey007) June 8, 2019