The last time, India participated in the King's Cup was in Thailand in June 2019. After a disappointing exit from the AFC Asian Cup group stage just five months before, Igor Stimac took charge of the Blue Tigers. The Indian men's football team will play against Iraq in the semi-final of the King's Cup 2023 tournament in Thailand on September 7.
India had many new faces around then. The 82-ranked Curaçao side made a brilliant start. India started to gel and had more scoring opportunities than the Caribbeans after the break. They could have produced a comeback if it wasn't for Sunil Chhetri's header that went wide.
"Curaçao had players with great stamina and technical skills. Although we entered the game in a poor way, we responded in the second half with a few changes. Our youngsters played some fearless football, and we were very proud of them," said Igor Stimac, Indian Football team Head Coach.
The Blue Tigers won the bronze with a 1-0 win against Thailand in the third-place clash. Anirudh Thapa scored the only goal to lead the Blue Tigers over the line. It was India's first win at the continent's showpiece event in 55 years. The King's Cup victory at the Chang Arena in Buriram was the first success against Thailand on Thai soil.
Adil made his first India appearance in over six years as he formed a solid partnership with Sandesh Jhingan at the back. "Adil played a magnificent game with Sandesh," said Stimac. "We defeated Thailand with a totally different team where Sunil was not involved. I left most of the boys from the first game on the bench. We came out practically with the reserve team."
Skipper Chhetri will be absent. The third-place play-off against Thailand was the last time India won a match without Chhetri. India are carrying brilliant form right now as they are unbeaten and won the SAFF Championship and Continental Cup recently after defeating higher-ranked teams.