India’s star man Sunil Chhetri (left) has shown good form during the first two matches of the Asian Cup. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: Asian Football Confederation general secretary Dato Windsor John has revealed he is not surprised in the slightest with India’s showings at the ongoing AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

India stunned fancied Thailand 4-1 in their Group A opener in the UAE as their fans at the Al Nahyan Stadium held a huge banner that read: ‘No more a sleeping giant’.

This was India’s first win in the Asian Cup since 1964 and there too, they had beaten Hong Kong by a similar margin.

India’s star man Sunil Chhetri scored a double in the morale-boosting victory. “India have performed commendably in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 and the opening victory against Thailand, which was their first in 55 years in the competition’s history, is testament to the development of Indian football and the continued dedication of the AIFF,” said Windsor John.

The Blue Tigers then went down fighting to the UAE but had the tournament hosts on the ropes for much of the first half, with some great saves and blocks keeping them at bay.

“Despite their narrow defeat against UAE, they showed great character and resilience to compete against one of the tournament’s heavyweights on home soil and anyone who was there will feel India were a little unfortunate,” added Windsor John. “I believe India can take great pride with their performances in the Continental showpiece.

“India’s performance may have come as a surprise for some, but at the AFC, we are well aware of the remarkable progress of football in the country over the last decade.

“The AFC’s Vision and Mission underlines our commitment to provide tailor-made assistance for our Member Associations and as the world second largest community on the planet, we have long recognised the potential of India. Over the years, we have continued to work closely with the AIFF to raise the standards of the sport through various President Initiatives and development programmes.”