India played some inspiring football against higher-ranked Kyrgyz Republic to snatch a 2-0 victory and bag the Tri-National International Tournament Trophy with an all-win record in Imphal on Tuesday. India had earlier defeated Myanmar 1-0 on March 22. The opening goal on Tuesday came from centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, who found the target in the 34th minute. India added insurance in the 84th minute with Sunil Chhetri firing home from the spot.
Midfielder Brandon Fernandes put the ball in front of the rival goal off a free-kick and Jhingan pounced on it to find the back of the net to open India’s account in the first half.
If the Kyrgyz Republic goalkeeper Tokotaev Erzhan thought the tall Indian defender would go for a header, he was mistaken as Jhingan waited for the ball to land and then swung it with a deft touch into the goal.
India kept launching attacks whenever they had the opportunity, and one such move in the 84th minute saw the Kyrgyz Republic defence crumble under pressure as Naorem Mahesh Singh was brought down inside the penalty box by Davydov Nikolai.
The ensuing spot kick saw Chhetri score his 85th international goal. The striker stepped up to take the kick and tucked it into the corner of the net.
This was India’s fifth straight win on home turf.
Stimac made six changes from the team that started against Myanmar, but it didn’t break their rhythm one bit.
If preparations for the AFC Asian Cup in January next was the main purpose of hosting the tournament, then it was a success. The Indians showed that they are growing in confidence before they go for the all-important continental challenge.