AFC Asian Cup: Thailand 1-4 India – Match Report, Standout Performer, Expectations

Sunil Chhetri starred with a brace as India got their 2019 AFC Asian Cup campaign off to a flyer, beating Thailand 4-1 in their tournament opener at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Sunday evening. 

The Men in Blue were brilliant in every sense of the term and thoroughly deserved to clinch their first victory in the AFC Asian Cup since 1964. The magnificent Indian skipper, Sunil Chhetri, put India ahead thorough an expertly-executed penalty kick in the 27th-minute, sending the supporters into a frenzy. Thailand, however, took only six minutes to respond and restored parity through Teerasil Dangda’s well-taken free-kick. India came out all guns blazing in the second half and recorded an emphatic scoreline through one goal each from Chhetri, Anirudh Thapa, and Jeje Lalpekhlua.


Courtesy: Indian Express

On paper, Thailand seemed like the better team by a distance. Thanks to the South East Asians’ knack for breaking away at pace, India were tipped for a difficult night. The initial omens fell in line with the predictions, as it was the War Elephants who created the first real chance of the night. India were relieved to see Thitipan Puangchan’s effort miss the target, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was tested soon after from a well-worked set-piece routine.

Thailand, as expected, had a stronger foothold in the game, enjoying just over 70% possession in the first half. However, after a spell of Thai dominance, it was India’s turn to hit back. Ashique Kuruniyan’s ambitious effort hit Theerathon’s arm, and the match official, who was in a great position at the time, didn’t hesitate to penalize the War Elephants. India’s ever-reliable skipper, Sunil Chhetri, stepped up and dispatched a convincing spot kick to put his side ahead. Thailand reacted in the best possible way and restored parity through Teerasil’s thumping header just six minutes after. The two teams went into the tunnel with nothing between them.

The second half saw India play their best half in the history of the tournament. They looked flamboyant, decisive, and weren’t afraid to take on their lofty rivals. Just a minute into the second half, Chhetri’s pass found Udanta Singh, who went on an inspiring run before teeing up his skipper for India’s second goal of the night.

The Blue Tigers had smelt blood by then and were hunting for the all-important third goal. After 20 minutes of relentless pressing and unmatched doggedness, India hit their third through an efficient counter-attack. Chhetri’s inch-perfect through ball set Udanta up for a comfortable finish, and while the youngster missed his mark, Anirudh Thapa didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.

Finally, to top the historic night off, Jeje Lalpekhlua came off the bench to score India’s fourth in the 80th minute, ending his 10-month goal drought.


Standout Performer – Sunil Chhetri

Courtesy: Indian Express

The 34-year-old Indian maverick once again proved why he is hailed as one of the finest Indian players in the history of the sport. With his brace (66th and 67th goal), Chhetri went past Argentina’s Lionel Messi (65 goals) in the list of international goals scored by an active footballer, with only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 85 from 154 matches, remaining to beat. His goals were only the icing on the cake, as his commitment, doggedness, and determination were equally influential.


Looking Ahead

Participating in their fourth Asian Cup, the 4-1 win over Thailand, last night, was only India’s third triumph in 11 fixtures. The encouraging result should give the Men in Blue, who now sit at the top of their group, plenty of confidence to hope for the unexpected and go deep into the tournament. Hosts UAE are the strongest team in their group and would be a tough nut to crack. Bahrain, on the other hand, seem a like a more favorable opponent, and should not pose much of a threat to an in-form India.

India’s next fixture pits them against UAE – who were held to a draw by Bahrain in their tournament opener – on Thursday night.


Ballon d’Or – 5 most controversial winner ever

Monday, December 3, 2018. On that date, Paris will be staged for awarding the Ballon d’Or 2018. For the first time, after years of uncontested rule, the award-winning Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will not be on the podium. In addition, we will have a totally new finale composed by Luka Modric, Kylian Mbappe and Raphael Varane.

The Real Madrid defender has been at the centre of a discussion for his participation in the final act because, according to many, he had “stolen” the place from some much more deserving football player. In fact, in the past, it happened more than once that a player obtained the prize of Ballon d’Or among general criticism from those deserve it more. We have collected 5 of them and staged them to refresh your memory.


Matthias Sammer (1996)

The Golden Ball was handed over to a defender came in 1996, when Borussia Dortmund’s Matthias Sammer won the award. The recognition triggered a lot of controversy in Italy because of the fourth-place finish of Alessandro Del Piero, winner of the Champions League and Intercontinental Cup that year, where he was the undisputed hero. And then Sammer had won the European Championship but was not considered one of the best defenders in the world, yet he climbed on the top step of the podium for only 3 votes more than a young Ronaldo, the Phenomenon, and Alan Shearer, the English flag of Newcastle United.


Pavel Nedved (2003)

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Back in 2003, the name taken out of the winner’s envelope was Pavel Nedved. The Czech played an excellent Champions League, although not played the final because of the controversy in the semifinal match against Real Madrid, leaving the victory to Milan. Two Rossoneri reached the threshold of victory, Paolo Maldini, winner of the fourth Champions League of his career, came third, while Andry Shevchenko only came fourth. The second place, in fact, was assigned to a certain Thierry Henry. The Frenchman scored 42 goals and 26 assists in the whole calendar year, numbers impressed before the arrival of Messi and Ronaldo.

Also read : Do Luca Modric really deserved it?


Fabio Cannavaro (2006)

The defender finished in front of his team-mate Gianluigi Buffon, author of a virtually perfect World Cup without suffering even a network of action in the 7 matches of the competition. Third for the award, however, came Thierry Henry, the French tightrope walker who took Arsenal one step away from the Champions League victory and lost the Berlin final due to the naive mistakes of Zidane before, with his famous header, and Trezeguet then, stopped by the crossbar in the shot from the penalty spot.


Lionel Messi (2010)

Image result for messi ballon d'or 2010

Winning a major competition is one of the main motivations for obtaining the Ballon d’Or award. This explains the general dismay about the victory of Lionel Messi in 2010. The Argentine preceded his teammates Iniesta and Xavi , who excelled with the Spain the World Cup in South Africa, in which Don Andres even scored the decisive goal in the final  In Italy, however, the controversy was raised by the Inter people, wounded in the soul for not having seen reward for one of its players in Triplet. Wesley Sneider came fourth, despite being one of the finalists of the 2010 World Cup. And Diego Milito did not even finish among the first 23 of the list of candidates for the award.


Cristiano Ronaldo (2013)

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The Portuguese took the Golden Ball on the face of Lionel Messi. Few points of difference to precede the Argentine were enough to get his second personal recognition. The discussion, however, was fueled anyway, as the prize could be awarded to Frank Ribery, Bayern Munich’s main man in the 2012-2013 Champions League victory. The Frenchman came only third, putting an end to the possibility of snatching the Ballon d’Or from the Messi-Ronaldo monopoly for the last few years.

Controversial Penalty gives Brazil and Neymar narrow win over Uruguay

Controversial Penalty gives Brazil and Neymar narrow win over Uruguay

The International break is in full swing and amidst this array of International Football Brazil and Neymar seem to have found some luck.

In what was a lackluster friendly for a majority of the game Brazil edged 1-0 past Uruguay thanks to Neymar’s spot-kick at the Emirates Stadium in London. It was an International Friendly like this that reminded us why UEFA came up with the Nations League to make the International break entertaining while, to be honest, it was a pretty bleak and Monotonous time in the Football Calendar, For South American Countries I reckon it still is. But the lack of intent isn’t the reason this game is in the news, is it? It was Neymar’s controversial Free-Kick that made the headlines.

Neymar was a victim of repeated fouls as Uruguay finished the game with six yellow cards and it was the Uruguayans who had to pay the price for their aggression. Though Uruguay looked the more dangerous of the two sides as the hour mark approached. Merely 15 minutes later Brazil had a little bit of luck go there way. Manchester City and Brazil Full-back Danilo was seen committing a Hand-ball infringement but Referee Craig Pawson didn’t seem interested and let the play go on. Just moments later Danilo was brought down in the box by Diego Laxalt and this time Craig Pawson pointed to the spot. Expectedly, Neymar stepped up to the spot and expectedly tucked the ball into the back of the net to score his 60th International Goal. Makes you wonder If Pawson had gotten the Danilo Hand-Ball decision right in the first place things might have just gone Uruguay’s way considering they were looking the better side. But that’s the unpredictable nature of Football, isn’t it?

The game was touted to be a prep game for the Copa America in 2019 which would be hosted by Brazil. The Selecao will be hosting South America’s most Prestigious Football competition for the First time since 1989. Barring a World Cup Quarter-Final exit at the Hands of Belgium in Russia, Tite and his Brazilian team have had an unbeaten run. Coach Tite will be hoping his side can break the voodoo surrounding their poor performances in the Copa America, having failed to make the final four in the last three editions of the Tournament. The Selecao will be hoping to be crowned Champions at home in front of their fans after having a trophyless decade.

Germany suffer 6 defeats in 2018, register a string of bad records.

Germany suffer 6 defeats in 2018, register a string of bad records.

With the International break, just 2 weeks away let’s take a look at 2014 World Champions, Germany and their abysmal run in 2018.

The German National team has been the worst year in the history of Football, at least in terms of defeats registered in a Calendar Year. With Successive defeats in the UEFA Nations League, 3 – 0 loss against the Netherlands and a 2 – 1 loss against defending World Champions France, Die Mannschaft have forged up a record that they wouldn’t be proud of. The German National Team has lost six games in a calendar year for the first time in their History. Suffering defeat against Brazil, Austria, Mexico, South Korea, the Netherlands and now France to wrap up six losses in what has been a pathetic 2018, to say the least.

Germany’s Toni Kroos saved his country from further embarrassment as he managed to score from the Penalty spot in the 2 – 1 loss to France or else Germany’s goal drought would’ve been extended to four games. Unfortunatelythat was the only good news to come out of the France game, with the 2014 World Cup champions continuing to establish a string of embarrassing milestones. Germany are now without a win in four continuous competitive fixtures for the first time in almost 20 years, with their last abysmal run from October 1999 to June 2000. The defeat also marked the first time Germany have suffered two consecutive defeats in competitive matches since 2000.

If you thought it was just the forwards not able to notch up goals, think again. The defence has been pretty leaky as well, Germany managed to notch up only one clean sheet in 2018 out of 11 games in the calendar. Which is a shocking record considering they have a defence comprising of Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Antonio Rudiger, Joshua Kimmich and have Manuel Neuer with Marc Andre Ter Stegen as his Understudy in Goal. It’s shocking that that defence has managed to keep only one clean sheet. The last time they had such a bad percentage of Clean sheets to games we’ll have to go back to 1964.

Things can go from bad to worse for Die Mannschaft as they take on Russia in a friendly on the 15th of November followed by another UEFA Nations League game against the Netherlands. Seeing how things are going for Joachim Low and his men a string of similar results could lead to relegation from the Nations League. Making qualification for the 2020 UEFA Euros that much harder.