Think about being 20, and taking part in simply your 12th match for your nation in your nationwide workforce’s largest recreation in latest historical past.
Think about having a mediocre first half efficiency, and then think about popping out in the second to set issues proper with a pleasant dink over the goalkeeper, and setting your workforce on the path to a historic win.
Think about being Anirudh Thapa, at the Al Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi, in an India shirt in opposition to Thailand on Sunday.
“Superb! Huge recreation, for me and for India,” he says, after the four-1 win the place he scored India’s third (and solely his second senior) purpose. “Clearly, as a result of in 2011, we misplaced our first match four-zero [to Australia]. Many individuals had hopes and some had been uncertain, however we did our greatest.”
Thapa was nonetheless in St. Stephen’s Academy, Chandigarh, a large-eyed boy of 12, when India final made the Asian Cup finals in 2011, and he remembers watching snatches of the video games on TV, questioning if he would ever make it as an expert participant. Maybe it’s modesty, or simply the method he performs the recreation, however he by no means even dreamt of marking his debut in the occasion with a purpose.
“My job is to run up and down. When Sunil bhai [Sunil Chhetri] performed the ball to Udanta bhai [Udanta Singh], I had possibly only one p.c likelihood to get on the rebound or one thing,” he remembers his diagonal run throughout the Thailand half in the 68th minute that may finish with the ball at his ft, and then in the purpose behind Chatchai Bootprom. “Fortunately, Udanta bhai simply slipped for the second, and he gave me the move, and I noticed that the goalkeeper and each defenders had been going one facet, and I simply thought of chipping in, and it went in.”
Does Thapa visualise sequences like different sportspersons, and particularly did he visualise scoring a purpose on Asian Cup debut? “No, by no means in my life. As a result of I like aiding gamers. This can be a huge factor for me,” he confesses, earlier than revealing that was most likely why he had no celebratory routine in thoughts. “This time I used to be tremendous excited as a result of once I scored, all I used to be saying was, ‘Come on, man. We are able to do that.’ Tremendous excited! That is why no celebrations had been coming.”
An elaborate celebration can wait for the subsequent recreation in opposition to UAE, he guarantees, however for the second he begins his dedications with one to central midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who used to put on the quantity 7 jersey earlier than Thapa and occupied the identical place in central midfield. “He ought to have been right here, and not me, however for his accidents,” he says. “That is additionally for Sunil bhai, as a result of he has labored day and evening, all the fans supporting us, everyone in our employees, who’re working day and evening.
“It’s not the Indian workforce, it’s for the whole of India.”