Indian football team had a rousing start to their AFC Asian Cup campaign, running through Thailand 4-1 in Abu Dhabi on January 6. Sunil Chhetri scored twice while Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua rounded off the scoring for Stephen Constantine’s men, who are now placed atop Group A.
Skipper Chhetri scored from the spot in the first half to give India the lead while Teerasil Dangda equalised for Thailand. The teams were tied 1-1 at half time. India began the second half on the offensive and Chhetri scored again just two minutes into the break. From then on, the Indians were unstoppable. India will the UAE in their second match on January 10.
“Tomorrow morning we train again,” said Stephen Constantine in his press conference post India’s AFC Asian Cup victory over Thailand, because that, after all is what football players do. Regardless of the result, they grind. Next morning though. On Monday. The villains of the week. After a Sunday full of upsets.
Rankings, form and reputation are fragile objects in football, knocked over by the faintest hint of desire and will. And on January 6, the first of the AFC Asian Cup, even before Indian football team had taken to the field, there had been one — Jordan knocking over the defending champions’ (Australia’s) cup of tea. It had started perhaps even earlier, when Real Kashmir FC took on Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, and took all three points in the I-League. Later at night, Barnet, a non-league club, knocked Sheffield United (second in the Championship) out of the FA Cup. The Sunday Syndrome was strong. On paper Bagan, Sheffield and Australia were favourites, but football, of course, is played on grass.