Thapa shines on poor night for Chhetri as India beat Myanmar

Mar 22, 2023 09:16 PM IST

The midfielder scored in India’s 1-0 win against Myanmar in the opening game of the tri-nation football tournament.

Anirudh Thapa scored and shone on a night Sunil Chhetri would like to forget as India beat Myanmar 1-0 in the Hero Tri-nation international Football Tournament on Wednesday. This was India’s fourth successive win at home and it came at Imphal’s packed Khuman Lampak Stadium which, in its first ever international, saw seven players from Manipur used by head coach Igor Stimac.

Anirudh Thapa celebrates with his teammates(AIFF)
Anirudh Thapa celebrates with his teammates(AIFF)

Moving into the right areas, playing accurate passes – one of them a back-heel for Chhetri – and being sharp with restart moves, Thapa would also have got an assist but Chhetri was ruled off-side when television replays showed he was not. Chhetri could also have got two penalties but Bangladesh referee Alongir thought otherwise.

Chhetri’s rustiness though showed. The headers were not on target, and in the 32nd minute, with only goalkeeper Sann Sat Naing to beat from less than 10 yards, the India captain shot to him. As if those were not bad enough, Chhetri’s header defending a Myanmar free-kick required a smart save from Amrinder Singh.

Feeding Chhetri was the combination of Akash Mishra and Bipin Singh on the left though the best ball for him in the first half came from right-side forward Lallianzuala Chhangte. From the off, India used the pace of their wide players. Right back Hien Phyo Win was booked for a foul on Mishra in the first minute and Jeakson Singh headed over Thapa’s free kick.

From then to Ritwick Das’ miss in 90+3, India pressured but were not clinical in their front third. The goal needed a slice of luck when Rahul Bheke’s chip took a deflection off Ye Min Thu and fell for Thapa in the first minute of first half stoppage time. The clinical finish was his fourth strike for India.

It wouldn’t have been enough had Amrinder not kept out a long-ranger from Aung Thu and a stab from Mg Mg L Win on either side of half-time. India were also lucky that Zaw Win Thien shot out in second-half stoppage time.

Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic meet on Saturday. India play Kyrgyz Republic on Tuesday.


    Dhiman Sarkar is based in Kolkata with over two decades as a sports journalist. He writes mainly on football.

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