India is set to face Thailand their first AFC Asian Cup 2019 match at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE on Sunday. Two Asian countries going through a phase of football revolution comes face-to-face in the Group A clash.
Thailand is placed 118 on the current FIFA Rankings They are coming into the tournament with five wins in their last eleven fixtures. However, they lost 2-0 to Oman a few days back, with whom India managed a goalless draw in the previous week. Thailand were favourites to win the AFF Championship and the shock semi-final exit has put added pressure on Milovan Rajevac as he turns his focus onto the Asian Cup.
India’s first hurdle will be to keep the Thailand attack at bay as they have been running rampant in their the AFF Championship campaign which ended on a sour note – they lost to Malaysia on away goals in the two-legged semi-final. The War Elephants scored 17 goals from their six matches at the AFF tournament, without key players such as Teerasil Dangda and Chanathip Songkrasin.
India will be hoping for a good defensive performance and will take positives from the goalless draw against China in a friendly in October. Sandesh Jhingan has to lead the backline well and will shoulder the responsibility in defence along with first-choice goalie Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The Bengaluru goalkeeper, despite his woeful blunder against Jordan that led to a goal, has been excellent in between the sticks in the Indian Super League.
Thailand would be missing goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, known as “Flying Kawin” due to an injury. Otherwise, the War Elephants has a talented squad with good depth. Theerathon Bunmathan would be a crucial presence in the defence. The duo of Teerasil Dangda and Chanathip Songkrasin will pose a lot of threat to the Indian backline.
India has no major injury concerns at the moment. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will be key to the game. While Sandesh Jhingan will play a key role in the defence, Udanta Singh’s crosses to Sunil Chhetri in the box will be crucial.
Thailand: Chatchai Budprom, Theerathon Bunmathan, Pansa Hemviboon, Chalermpong Kerdkaew, Tristan Do, Thitipan Puangchan, Tanaboon Kesarat, Sumanya Purisai, Chanathip Songkrasin, Adisak Kraisorn, Teerasil Dangda
India: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Subhashish Bose, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal, Halicharan Narzary, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Udanta Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua
Thailand: 11 India: 4 Draw: 6
Thailand’s key man will be midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin, who has proven his worth for the country as well as his club in recent times. Teerasil Dangdais another player to watch out for. He is a very clinical striker and will give the Indian defence a tough time.
Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri will be the key man in attack for the Blue Tigers with his ability to lure in defenders and even create chances for fellow attackers. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s role between the sticks will be crucial for the Indian team.
India might be above in the FIFA rankings but Thailand has players plying their trade in the J-League and will be a tough test for the Indian side. Blue Tigers might be able to edge out based on a strong defence.
Thailand 1 – India 2
When and where to watch
Thailand vs India will be broadcast on Start Sports Network at 7:00 PM IST. Live streaming of the matches will be available on Hotstar.