Football Tribe SEA Editor
Curacao staked their claim as favorites to capture this year’s King’s Cup in Buriram, Thailand after a comfortable 3-1 win over India in the tournament’s opener.
The sweltering South Isaan heat and the sparsely filled arena contributed to an eerie atmosphere at the Thunder Castle as the match kicked off.
India’s compact shape and persistent pressing looked to disrupt Curacao’s possession game, and almost caught out their opponents early doors.
However, Curacao’s patience meant they were finally able to turn their possessional dominance into a goalscoring threat, as Roly Bonevacia latched on to the end of a low cross and fired a shot beyond goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, giving his side the lead after 17 minutes.
The Carribean Island team then added a second just two minutes later, as Elson Hooi snuck in behind the India defense, latching on to a lobbed pall with a deft touch once sprinting into the clear. The pacy winger then evaded the onrushing Gurpreet Singh, before shifting the ball and firing into the net from an improbable angle.
Sunil Chhetri managed to half the deficit shortly after the half-hour mark from the penalty spot, as the captain and talisman revived the hope for the Blue Pilgrims supporters. However, Cardiff City midfielder Leandro Bacuna was on hand to re-establish his country’s two-goal lead, with a powerful low shot which beat the keeper at his far post.
The two sides went in for half time with Curacao ahead 3-1, and India coach Igor Stimac opted to give his half-time team talk on the side of the pitch, which he later explained was due to the distance between the dugout and the dressing room and his eagerness to not waste time commuting between the two.
Clouds began to descend upon the Chang Arena as the two sides returned to the pitch, and by the hour mark gave way to a monumental downpour. Nevertheless, play persisted, in hope that the pitch would remain in pristine condition with another game set to take place later that evening.
Needing to chase the game, India dominated most of the possession after the hour mark but failed to convert it into anything substantial, while Curacao continued to possess a threat on the counter. The South Asian side continued to create chances, but ultimately they were unable to break through, as the second half ended scoreless.
Curacao will now take on the winner of Thailand’s clash against Vietnam, which is set to take place this evening at 19:45 local time.