But he was left shell-shocked by Thailand's horror show against underdogs India, whose veteran striker Sunil Chhetri scored twice, overtaking Lionel Messi's 65 global goals in the process. Chhetri went past Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, who has so far scored 65 goals from 128 matches.
"Admittedly this is a tough responsibility", said the 49-year-old former coach of Thai League team Thai Honda. It is always brilliant to start the tournament with a win and this was a big confidence boost for us. I hope in the coming matches also we can give them things to cheer. "I can think about my goals some ten years later", he remarked yesterday.
However, in doing so, the Indian skipper achieved another feat: He overtook Lionel Messi's global goal tally for Argentina! "I am happy that we are converting from the chances that we are making". "Every one of them ran and defended for their lives".
"The most hard game one will be against the UAE and lest we forget, Bahrain will be equally tough for us". But the manner the boys fought shows a lot of character.
On Sunday, after his team's convincing victory, Chhetri was all praise for the passing abilities of Thailand. On paper, they are the second best team in the group behind UAE but they will need to put in performances that suggest so.
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"India absolutely deserved to win and we under-performed in the second half", said the Serbian.
"The India fans were awesome so we hope we can go on and give them something more to cheer about". So we stayed close. Chhetri stepped up and converted to score his third AFC Asian Cup goal. As a result Chhetri was the most mentioned player from the match on Twitter. "You don't go into a game thinking you will win 4-1 or 5-1".
India will need at least a point from their remaining two games to make it to the knockout stage of the Asian Cup 2019 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
"We just didn't quite move the ball quick enough".
Thailand is competing at the Asian Cup for the first time since 2007 and will look to bounce back against Bahrain on Thursday. Chhetri then struck again immediately after the interval as India reclaimed the lead, before Thapa and Lalpekhlua added the gloss to the win.