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Thailand defeats India again

Vijay Lokapally

— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Well done:Thailand striker Keawsombat Keerati (right) celebrates with a teammate after scoring against India.

NEW DELHI: They sat through the rain to cheer but the honours went to Thailand as India failed to match the opponent in a friendly international and lost 1-2 at the Ambedkar Stadium on Wednesday.

The margin was a fair indication of the visiting team's overall strength and must have pleased coach Bryan Robson. Thailand had won the first friendly at Bangkok on Saturday.

The spectators got to watch Baichung Bhutia who made a 20-minute appearance and even took a swipe at the goal but the man to watch and win hearts was Dechmitr Wichaya.

The goals came from Winothai Teerathep and Keawsombat Keerati for Thailand but Wichaya outshone every other player on the field with his crafty runs and ball-distribution.

The tall Phanrit Nataporn controlled the defence and initiated some daring moves on the flanks. The counterattacks that Thailand produced left the Indians gasping. Speed remained Thailand's forte as the Indian defenders struggled to cope with the pace and skill of the Thai strike force where the untiring Wichaya was simply unstoppable.

His constant shifting of position was one of the highlights of Thailand's pleasing performance. The heavy ground was not a hindrance for the Thai, who came up with sensational short-passing to leave the opponents in a trance.

Not that the Indians were mere spectators but the applause for the home team were few and scattered. The contest was dominated by Thailand even though Sunil Chetri provided the rare sparkle.

Gauramangi shines

The man to play his heart out for India was Gauramangi Singh. He defended stoutly and helped in keeping the margin down. A stunning counterattack saw Thailand take the lead.

A Chetri left-footer was parried by goalkeeper Thamasatchanan Kawin and in a flash Winothai Teerathep was chipping the ball over an advancing Subrata Paul at the other end. The presence of mind that Teerathep displayed was exemplary as he coolly side-stepped a defender and deftly placed the ball in.

India retaliated 12 minutes later when Chetri's header created panic and as the Thai goalkeeper fumbled and N.P. Pradeep scored.  The tally was completed by Keerati.

Robson was satisfied with the result. “India caused a few more problems than expected, but we played some good attacking football. Good chances created by both sides and I am delighted at a couple of my young players doing very, very well.”

India coach Bob Houghton gave credit to Thailand. “They are getting better but the game was very equal. It was nice to see Baichung back. We miss him when he is not around.”

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