The big day is finally here as the Indian Men’s National Football Team step back on pitch after 175 days of wait. The Indian National Team have headed towards the North East of India, in Manipur to play the Hero Tri-Nation Football Tournament between India, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan.
It is an historic event given that the Senior Men’s National Team will be playing an International match for the first time ever at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium, in Imphal. India will start the tournament tonight on 22nd of March 2023, at 6:00PM with their opening match against Myanmar.
A rivalry which has in recent years been neck to neck even though the current rankings of the teams tell an entirely contrasting story. India are ranked 106 in the FIFA World rankings currently, while Myanmar are ranked 159. But what makes the contest more interesting is the fact that both teams have different points to prove and things to play for.
This tournament sees the first of many matches India expect to play as a part of preparations for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup. The last time India and Myanmar met was back in 2017 in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers. The first of the two meetings in the campaign was a 1:0 win for India, away from home at Myanmar while the second meeting ended in a 2:2 draw where Myanmar couldn’t hold the early lead but India, even after constant efforts and a disallowed indirect free kick goal, couldn’t find three points in that particular game.
As fans, we eagerly anticipate the upcoming football match between India and Myanmar, fueled by our knowledge of both teams’ statistics and history. However, before we tune in the excitement of the game, let’s consider these five key talking points ahead of the game.
The Chhangte-Bipin duo:
With Mumbai City winning the League shield with unparalleled dominance, their two wingers were in red hot form throughout the season. Lallianzuala Chhangte, the Mizo sensation marked his National Team debut tournament with two goals to his name way back in 2016. There came a silent phase in between but it was almost like the silence before storm, because the storm finally arrived in ISL 2022-23. Chhangte ended the season being the Player of the Tournament with 10 Goals and 6 Assists to his name. Meanwhile local lad for this fixture, Bipin Singh left no stones unturned to go neck to neck and make an impact with 7 goals in this season’s Hero ISL.
The duo share a combined stat of 25 goal contributions divided into 17 Goals and 8 Assists this season in the Indian Super League. Chhangte additionally had scored seven more goals in the Durand Cup earlier in the season and has seemingly continued his goal scoring threat with each passing day. Overall this deadly duo can be a key weapon for India not just in the Tri-Nation Tournament but in the Asian Cup as well, and with less time in hand, this is their chance to combine and build to their strengths for the Indian National Team.
The awaiting debutant and the assist king – Ritwik Das and Mahesh Naorem Singh:
There have been a number of debutants since Igor Stimac took charge of the Indian National Team in 2019, and we’ve seen plenty of exciting talents making their way to the top level. One more such exciting talent is Jamshedpur FC’s wonder boy, Ritwik Das. The 26-year-old winger started his career in West Bengal and later made his Hero I-League debut in 2017 with Real Kashmir, where he started impressing Indian football fans all around.
His trickery, skills, and goalscoring prowess had always been highly praised and talked about, and finally, he got his chance to prove himself in the Hero Indian Super League for Jamshedpur, which he sure grabbed with open hands as he danced past defenders for fun and also scored six goals for his team this season along with his League Shield-winning stint in 2021-22, where he scored four crucial goals for Jamshedpur FC. With a dream in his eyes and showing hopes to a nation, this young lad’s debut will be one worth witnessing.
On the other hand, the word “assist” is somewhat underrated when compared to goals, but rarely will you see a goal without an assist coming in, and that’s how the beautiful game of football is based on an entire team and not just individuals, making each member of the squad so important. Talking about assists, Mahesh Naorem Singh of East Bengal has been catching eyes and been topping the assist charts with seven assists to his name, being the third-highest in this ISL season. He’ll also be waiting for his chance to deliver quality into the box.
The new age defensive duo – Chinglensana Singh x Anwar Ali:
The position of center back had long been a cause of concern, but in recent years, we’ve found plenty of solutions, and two of the most impressive ones are Chinglensana Singh and Anwar Ali.
Chinglensana Singh had been in the mix of things for years, having played in the Hero I-League for Shillong Lajong, but had a quiet stint at FC Goa before joining Manolo Marquez’s Hyderabad FC, where he shined bright like gold, living up to his name “SANA” Singh. On the other hand, Anwar Ali had been one of the most promising players and a highly talked-about talent ever since the U-17 World Cup.
Unfortunately, due to medical conditions, he was not allowed to take the pitch until recently, but after determined efforts and God’s grace, our defensive sensation Anwar Ali made a comeback with glittering performances for FC Goa. He even got his chance for the Indian Senior National Team, where he scored his maiden goal in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
The duo will be worth watching if given their chance together and can very well be thought of as the near future of Indian football. With their quality defending and ability to pass and hold the ball, it’s safe to say that the future is in safe hands.
The history creating venue and the local lads:
The Hero Tri-Nation Football Tournament is not just marking the preparations for our AFC Asian Cup challenge but is also marking a historic moment as the Senior Men’s National Football Team is set to play its first ever international match at the Khuman Lumpak Stadium, Imphal, the capital city of Manipur in the North East of India, which has been a footballing hub providing talents in plenty over the years to the nation.
The fans in North East have immense passion and love for the game, and they finally have their chance to see their national team play in front of them. The hype is high, and the wait is about to be over, but they have a few special visitors who visit home in the blue strides with pride. Yes, I’m talking about the local boys, Naorem Roshan Singh, Konsham Chinglensana Singh, Suresh Wangjam, Yasir Mohammad, Jeakson Singh, Bipin Singh, and Mahesh Naorem Singh. Rising in ranks from defence to attack, 7 of the Manipur locals have made their way into the national team squad and got their tickets to Imphal with their consistently impressive performances over the last 2 years.
Each of these boys will be highly motivated to step on home soil against Myanmar and will be looking to enjoy their time and impress the home fans and the entire nation with eye-catching performances when called upon.
Captain, leader, and legend – Sunil Chhetri:
There might be endless talking points, but even at the age of 38, headline making is not a forgotten habit for our Captain Fantastic. Astonishingly fit and agile, Sunil Chhetri still remains a major threat for opponent defenders. He’s a nightmare for defenders to mark. With his creative mind, football senses, and top-notch technique, Sunil Chhetri is one to watch out for.
In the past few days and months, surprising stats came up about how much ground Sunil Chhetri covered in the Hero ISL Final and how fast he still is at this age. Well, if “age is just a number” is a statement, Sunil Chhetri would surely be a testament to it. Not much to say about our Legend as we already know that he is the highest goal scorer for the Indian National team, and the Lethal Goal Poacher will be keen to once again shower our eyes with his over-the-roof commitment when he dons the National Colours.
At the end of the day, it is a festival for Indian Football Fans every time the Blue Tigers take on the pitch, and it’ll be no different story tonight.
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