Indian football team midfielder Anirudh Thapa says he will never trade his goal in the Asian Cup opener against Thailand with anything, not even the Kohinoor Diamond.
Last year on this day, India kicked off their campaign in the continental tournament with a 4-1 drubbing of Thailand, and also getting into the scoresheet was Thapa.
“I wouldn’t even trade the goal for the Kohinoor diamond! It’s so precious for me and it’ll always be there at the top of the ladder,” Thapa said, exactly a year after that memorable win.
Describing the goal, he said, “When Udanta (Singh) sprinted from the middle, I made a supporting run towards the right. I had a feeling that the goalkeeper would come out of his position. Even when my chip went in, I could not believe myself.”
India, though, could not qualify for the knockouts after failing to eke out a win in their remaining two matches.
Ashique Kuruniyan was a livewire in attack throughout the Thailand game and Thapa scored the third goal for India.
Recollecting the days leading up to the opener, Ashique said, “Two days before the match, the coach (Stephen Constantine) told me that I would start alongside Sunil bhai upfront.
“Their right-back was a fast guy and coach wanted me to disrupt him. I was in awe when we reached the stadium,” Ashique added.
Thapa said he couldn’t sleep the night before their tournament opener.
“In the team meeting, when the coach showed us the video and discussed the game plan, I even pinched myself.
“Yes, I would start for India in the Asian Cup. We had faced China and Oman in friendlies but the chance of playing in the Asian Cup is something else. Just unimaginable. The night before I couldn’t sleep properly,” he said.