On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Imphal, the Indian football team kicked off their Tri-Nation International Football Tournament campaign against Myanmar.
India, the hosts of the tournament, started on a positive note, registering a hard-fought 1-0 win over Myanmar.
The only goal of the match was scored by Anirudh Thapa in the injury time of the first half.
The game was a closely contested affair, with India dominating the share of possession, but missing several opportunities to score more goals.
The Indian team started the match brightly, with wingers Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte causing trouble for the Myanmar defense from the outset.
Indian captain Sunil Chhetri also had a couple of early chances to score, but could not find the back of the net.
The Indian defense, led by local boy Jeakson Singh, did well to keep the Myanmar attack at bay.
However, goalkeeper Amrinder Singh had to make a crucial save to deny Aung Thu’s effort midway through the first half.
India finally broke the deadlock in the injury time of the first half, when Anirudh Thapa capitalized on a rebound and smashed the ball into the back of the net.
The goal sent the Imphal crowd into raptures, and gave the Indian team a much-needed boost going into the second half.
In the second half, India continued to push forward in search of more goals.
Head coach Igor Stimac made a couple of changes to the team, bringing on local boy Suresh Wangjam and handing debuts to Mahesh Singh and Ritwik Das.
India thought they had doubled their lead with just over 15 minutes left on the clock, when Chhetri poked in a Thapa cross.
However, the goal was ruled offside, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
Chhetri had another chance to score minutes later, but his shot was saved by the Myanmar goalkeeper.
As the clock wore down, India continued to press forward, with Suresh Wangjam coming close to scoring in the dying seconds of the match.
In the end, India held on for a 1-0 victory, much to the delight of the Imphal crowd.
While the scoreline may have been close, the Indian team will take heart from their dominant performance, and will look to build on it in their upcoming matches.
The victory over Myanmar will give the Indian team a boost of confidence going forward in the tournament.
With matches against Nepal and Bangladesh coming up, the Indian team will be hoping to continue their winning run and emerge victorious in the Tri-Nation International Football Tournament.