India won the Tri-Nation friendly tournament after defeating Myanmar (1-0) and the Kyrgyz Republic (2-0) at Manipur’s Khuman Lampak stadium. The hosts provided plenty to cheer about for the packed stands, which featured crowds of around 30,000 people during both games.
With Igor Stimac and the AIFF aiming to make the most of every international window leading up to the Asian Cup in 2024, here are the key takeaways from this round of fixtures:
India’s wins in this round of fixtures made it five wins in a row at home, which is impressive on paper. Myanmar, ranked 159 to India’s 106, were expectedly easy opponents, while Kyrgyzstan’s higher ranking of 94 proved to be a misnomer as India’s victory was only occasionally tested. It’s a long way from the 1-2 defeat in 2018, with India now a more cohesive unit under Stimac.
The qualifiers in June of last year raised expectations for this team, which can now be relied on to defeat the teams they should defeat (however laboured the victories). Nonetheless, with India in Pot 4 of the Asian Cup draw and Bahrain, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Lebanon, and Palestine in Pot 3, Stimac may be able to sign off with an unlikely result in 2024.
India were crowned tournament champions, but two of their three goals came from set-pieces (a Sunil Chhetri penalty and a Sandesh Jhingan volley, of all things), while Anirudh Thapa’s only open-play goal came from a fortunate deflection in the Myanmar defence.