India lose 3-1 to Curacao in King’s Cup opener
Buriram (Thailand), June 5 (IANS): India started their campaign in the King’s Cup with a 3-1 loss to Curacao in Thailand. In what was Igor Stimac’s first game as Indian coach, the Blue Tigers were completely outplayed by the higher ranked Curacao in the first half. Sunil Chhetri was the sole scorer for India through a penalty.
India were playing a side which has a number of its players plying their trade in European leagues. Leandro Bacuna, who scored the third goal, plays for Cardiff City, who got relegated from the Premier League last season while captain Cuco Martina has played for Southampton and Everton and was last seen at Feyenoord with Robin Van Persie.
India had the better share of possession in the first half but were caught out defensively by Curacao on a number of occassions which led to them conceding the three goals. The first true chance of the match came India’s way when Brandon Fernandes played in Sahal Abdul Samad. The Kerala Blasters forward raced past his marker and fired a first-time volley that missed the target.
After that, however, it was mostly Curacao’s half with Rolly Bonevacia scoring the first goal in the 15th minute and Elson Hooi scoring the next two minutes later. Pronay Halder was unable to prevent the ball being played out wide where Gebaro Nepomucenco put a cross in that was drilled in by Bonevacia. The second came when Hooi caught out the Indian defence and beat Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in a one on one situation to put the ball into the empty net.
India then won a penalty when the referee called foul on a high boot from a Curacao defender against Sahal. Chhetri was as calm as ever as he slotted it home but three minutes later, Bacuna’s shot from the edge of the box went past Sandhu and Curacao’s two-goal lead was restored.
There were no more goals in the match after that and it was India that had the more clear cut chances in the second half. India’s next match will be on June 8 and it will be against the loser of the match between Thailand and Vietnam that will be played later in the day.