Imphal, March 23 (IANS) After registering a 1-0 win over Myanmar 1-0 in the opening game of the Tri-nation international football tournament, midfielder Anirudh Thapa said that Blue Tigers are happy with the result but they are now focusing on their next game against the Kyrgyz Republic on March 28.
Despite dominating the proceedings, it was a night of toil for India on Wednesday, as they looked to break down a low block by the Myanmar defence, which was eventually done by Thapa in front of fans at the Khuman Lampak Stadium, here.
“I’m happy to score, but we came here to win, and that’s the most important thing. It was a good start to our campaign,” said Thapa.
The boys came after months together and showed character, and we were all happy to get the first win tonight,” he added.
The Tri-nation international football tournament is only half done for the Blue Tigers and the focus shifted squarely to the next match.
“We had a good game, but now our task is to recover well, focus, and look at the plus points and try to improve on them,” said Thapa.
“For sure, we will try to do our best,” he added.
The national team last played six months ago in Ho Chi Minh City, where they drew with Singapore, and suffered a defeat against Vietnam. The 25-year-old expressed the importance that the Blue Tigers keep playing regularly at an international level.
“It’s always a moment of pride to don the National Team jersey and play for India, but the more important thing is that we need to get more matches at every available opportunity,” Thapa was quoted as saying in an AIFF media release.
“Playing against good teams helps us not only raise our level of performance, but also to adapt to different pressure situations that will eventually make us a better, more prepared team. It’s important that we use the coming International windows as well to get as many matches as we can, and help the coaches frame the right team for the future,” he added.
While the domestic season is not yet over in India, the national team players have done admirably to come straight from their club setups to slot in and perform in a slightly different environment for India.
“It’s always difficult to come in the middle of a season and switch from club to national team with different systems in both. That’s why we need more time with the national team to gel well together,” midfielder said.
“The understanding between the players is definitely there, and they are all smart enough. The coach also knows what football demands in recent times, and that’s how we all are doing well. every time we come to the National camp, our strategy is to try and play with the ball and that’s how we are all doing well here,” he added.
While his own role may be a little different, Thapa himself is enjoying the extra freedom that he is getting.
“We’re playing two attacking midfielders, and that makes my work simple. Just get the ball and move forward. I tried and did that, which made my game easier,” said Thapa.
A good performance at the Khuman Lampak was also affected by the crowd that cheered the Blue Tigers on to a win against Myanmar. Having the 12th man behind the team is always helpful, believes Thapa.
“The atmosphere was great in the first game, and I hope it continues from here on. The fans were just great, and we were happy that we could give them a win. They acted as the 12th man, so a massive thank you to them,” concluded Thapa.