Igor Stimac is concerned about India’s style of play rather than the results.
India head coach Igor Stimac is banking on the optimism present in the squad to help the Blue Tigers put up an improved show against Thailand on Saturday in the third-place playoff of the King’s Cup in Thailand.
India were beaten 3-1 by Curacao in the King’s Cup opener. It was the Croatian’s first match in charge of the Indian team. Stimac said: “Our preparation was mostly on refreshing our players after a difficult match against Curacao. They were a team who had experienced players, players who play in European Leagues and therefore it was difficult to play against them. But we are only in our second week of being together.
But the positiveness which we are creating and the positive environment we are creating in this team gives us optimism.”
India, under Stephen Constantine had beaten Thailand 4-1 in the Asian Cup opener back in January. Stimac added: “We know the Thailand team. Although I was not the coach our players faced them in the AFC Asian Cup.”
Igor Stimac’s impact on India’s style of play was visible in the second half against Curacao. India were the better side in the second half arguably. His immediate aim is to avoid injuries ahead of the upcoming Intercontinental Cup in India while allowing his players to adjust to his style of play. He said: “We are in a position now where we are trying to change our style of play. It is very difficult. It is a completely different structure and approach. They are not used to that. I was very glad to see that our supporters in India liked the fact that our team was trying to play with lots of passing and dominating a team like Curacao who are 20 places ahead of us in FIFA ranking. That is our intention. I insist on such a style.
We have to keep ourselves free of injuries so that we can prepare well for the Intercontinental Cup in India. The World Cup qualifiers are also important. I see many coaches are already thinking about. Everybody wants to win.”
Stimac is not concerned about the results now as he looks to change India’s style of play. He said: “My role as head coach is to awaken the thoughts of Indian people about football and we can do that only if we play nice football and win their hearts. We know that some results will suffer in the beginning but the positiveness that we are creating around this team is giving us a lot of optimism and especially the young players are giving us another optimism for the better future of Indian football.”
Five Indian players were handed debut by Stimac in the match against Curacao. Igor Stimac is banking on the young talents of the country to take them forward. He added: “We are going to build on these youngsters along with the experience of players like Sunil, Sandesh, Pronay, and others. Our real strength is young players. In the game against Curacao, I must remind you that five players had their debut. We are going to work with confidence, discipline and not put down our heads after a few defeats.”
Stimac will also rotate the team against Thailand so as to ensure everyone in the squad gets an opportunity to show his talent. He said: “All my players have been working very hard for the past 12 days or more. And I want to see every one of them on the pitch so that they can prove themselves. So all the players who didn’t get their chance in the previous match will get to play tomorrow. I will give them the chance to prove that they have more quality than the ones who played in the first match and make my decisions more difficult in the future.”
India should give Igor Stimac ample amount of time to get the players ready in his style of play. It’s not easy to get such a high profile head coach when your FIFA ranking is around 100. So this is India’s best chance to take maximum advantage of the coach’s vast experience and move a few steps forward towards becoming a major footballing nation.
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