BURIRAM (Thailand), June 8: A new-look Indian football team beat hosts Thailand 1-0 to hand head coach Igor Stimac his first win and finish third in the King’s Cup tournament on Saturday.
Stimac made as many as eight changes from the starting eleven which lost to Curacao 1-3 in their previous match on Wednesday with key players like Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu sitting at the bench.
Only Sandesh Jhingan, who led the side, Rahul Bheke and Subhasish Bose retained their places, but India still won the match through a 17th minute strike from midfielder Anirudh Thapa in the third-place match at the Thunder Castle stadium.
This is India’s second win over Thailand this year, having beaten the War Elephants in a group match of the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE in January.
India had three players from that Asian Cup match in Jhingan, Subhasish Bose and Thapa while five Thai players — Theerathon Bunmathan, Tristan Do, Thitiphan Puangchan, Jaided Supachai and captain Teerasil Dangda — survived from that team.
Amrinder Singh replaced Gurpreet under the bar, with Adil Khan, Thapa, Vinit Rai, Farukh Choudhary, Balwant Singh coming into the starting eleven, along with Amarjit Singh and Raynier Fernandes.
Thapa, who had also scored in India’s last meeting against Thailand in the Asian Cup, silenced the hostile home supporters with his goal in the 17th minute. Following a free-kick, Adil latched onto a loose clearance at the top of the Thai box, and played it delectably behind the defence line for Thapa to put India into the lead.
Adil, in fact, could have broken the deadlock in the sixth minute itself but his powerful header sailed over the crossbar.
In the 21st minute, Thai skipper Dangda’s powerful back-volley found the target, but he was ruled offside. The hosts switched the gear after the half-hour mark but the Indian defenders, led by Jhingan, showed their resilience to keep them at bay. (PTI)