Sunil Chhetri scored from the penalty spot in the 27th minute before adding a second in the 46th minute. India registered their first win in the Asian Cup after a gap of 55 years. It must be noted that the Blue Tigers hadn’t won a single game in the 1984 and 2011 editions of the continental championship.
“I didn’t know that. It feels good because it is a tough pool. All the three teams were more experienced and better than us. The way the boys fought shows a lot of character. I have said this before, we are a difficult team to play against and we will fight till the end. We might not be the most technical team but we will fight till the end and that is what the boys showed,” said Chhetri.
India and Thailand were locked at 1-1 at the end of the first half. However, Stephen Constantine’s Indian outfit looked in sublime form after the break. Chhetri was questioned as to what was said during the half-time break by the Englishman.
“Make sure you defend in numbers and make sure you don’t give them much space. We saw in the first half that if you allow them space, they will keep passing all over the park. The talk was let's get close, let's not give them much space. This Thai team, if you allow them they will pass a lot and won't allow you to touch the ball,” said the 34-year-old striker.
Chhetri has four goals in Asian Cup which is a record high for an Indian. In fact he is the top scorer in the current edition of the competition.
“The records do not matter, it does not matter who scores, I am happy that we got three points. You can see the jubilation and happiness in the team whenever a player scores. This just tells you how tight we are as a unit. I just hope we get more from this tournament,” he mentioned.
India will come up next against hosts UAE before taking on Bahrain, who had inflicted a 5-2 defeat in the 2011 Asian Cup.
Chhetri hopes that India can at least make it into the round of 16 by building on the 4-1 victory over Thailand.
“It (Qualification to the round of 16) is difficult as all the three teams are really good. You saw how UAE and Bahrain played. Bahrain was so good, UAE are the home side and they are technically good. For us, every game is a fight. We might not be the most technical team in the tournament but we will go there and fight till the end,” signed off Chhetri.