India defeated Myanmar 1-0 at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium in Imphal, Manipur, in the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament on Wednesday, March 22.
Anirudh Thapa netted the winner for India and the only goal of the game, in the stoppage time of the first-half. India were the dominant side throughout the game, but missed opportunities and going out of luck at times kept India’s victory margin at the bare minimum.
Fans turn up in big numbers
Hosting their first ever senior men’s International match, fans in Imphal turned up in big numbers to watch the Blue Tigers in action for the first time in their hometown. An official attendance of 29,431 were present at the Stadium. The crowd was vocal throughout the game, with chants like “India, India” being heard frequently. When the game approached the final whistle, Mexican waves and phone flashlights were seen as the people absolutely enjoyed India’s triumph in the game.
Anirudh Thapa certainly had a game to remember. Not only because of his goal, but also because of how he created chances in the match, both from set pieces and open play. He made clever movements and used the ball brilliantly. His ability to find pocket spaces was just excellent. When India were constantly searching for a goal in the final minutes of the first-half, the Chennaiyin FC skipper came to the scene in the right place at the right time to score his fourth goal for the country and give India the lead. He was also given the Man of the match award for his outstanding performance.
Not the best of nights for the skipper
Captain Sunil Chhetri had an unlucky game in-front of goal. He missed a chance in the 30th minute, when he headed wide Akash Mishra’s cross from the left. Two minutes later, he again missed a glorious opportunity when Chhangte played him in, but his effort from close range was straight to the keeper. However, the Bengaluru FC skipper did have a goal ruled out for offside incorrectly in the second half. Nevertheless, Chhetri’s movement and linkup play were brilliant, as always.
Poor refereeing continues in India
This game also had a few controversial decisions from the referee. Sunil Chhetri placed the ball in the back of the net from a brilliant cross from Anirudh Thapa in the 74th minute, but the referee disallowed the goal for offside. However, the replay showed that Chhetri was indeed onside when the ball was played by Thapa. In another incident, Sunil took a tumble inside the box in the 18th minute. There were penalty shouts from the Indian players but the referee said to continue playing.
In the replay, it was seen that the Myanmar defender didn’t get any of the ball. In the 87th minute, Chhetri gave a cheeky flicked ball to Thapa from a cross inside the box. Thapa was then brought down inside the box as he went for the ball. However, the referee wasn’t interested and asked for play to continue.
Three players, which included Mehtab Singh, Naorem Mahesh Singh and Ritwik Das had their senior debut for India in this game. Mehtab Singh, who started the match, had a brilliant game. He looked like an experienced defender. The Mumbai City FC player’s ability on the ball was excellent, while his defending was top notch as well. He even came close to scoring in the 86th minute, but his header to Thapa’s cross went off the target.
Naorem Mahesh Singh, who came on in the 71st minute, was an energetic presence. He was involved in a couple of link-up plays with Chhetri. Ritwik Das entered the pitch with just 5 minutes of regulation time left. He made a few clean touches from the wings.
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