During the recent international break, the Indian national football team played two friendly games against Nepal. The Blue Tigers drew 1-1 in the first game before winning 1-2 in the second. After the opening game against Nepal, India’s head coach, Igor Stimac, had a lot of questions to answer, as there was considerable discontent among the spectators.
India is expected to easily defeat SAFF countries, but their failure to do so in the first game drew much criticism. The team put in a better performance in the second encounter, although the tie was still close. The Indian team appears to be far from established, and there are various reasons for this.
These two friendly matches were crucial in the build-up to the impending SAFF Championship in October. Now that the two games are concluded, here is what we learned from seeing Igor Stimac’s team play Nepal:
Pressure on Stimac
The most important discovery from these pals was that Igor Stimac is under duress. Fans are getting irritated and losing tolerance with the coach. They’ve been patient with his approach to the national team and his philosophy of changing the way they play. Without a question, the results under his administration have been bad.
After India’s loss to Nepal in the first friendly, Stimac was widely chastised on social media. On Twitter and other social media sites, there was a hashtag calling for Stimac’s removal. While the Croatian remains unmoved and belligerent, he must recognize that the results must improve.
Built a Stable XI Players Team
India made numerous adjustments between the first and second games versus Nepal. Only four players from the first friendly returned for the second match. The chopping and shifting of the starting lineup have clearly not slowed down. The players, on the other hand, are disturbed, and the outcome is a lack of coordination on the field.
By now, the tactician should have settled on his ideal starting lineup. The period for trial and error is over, and the players must understand their duties in the setup. Between the players, there was a lack of cohesion and communication. This was particularly evident in defense, which requires greater consistency than any other department in the field. In the upcoming SAFF Championship, India must field a consistent playing XI.
Dependent Sunil Chhetri
For any form of inspiration, India still looks to its skipper. In both games, Sunil Chhetri was the difference-maker, and this dependence could hurt in the future. In the first game, Anirudh Thapa scored the equalizer after Chhetri’s long-range strike. In the second half, the captain supplied an assist and scored the game’s second goal, helping India to a 1-2 victory.
Igor Stimac needs to find a new focal point for the team. More players need to step up and make an impact in this relatively youthful squad. A long-term replacement for Chhetri is still a long way off, and it’s one of the biggest problems facing Indian football in general.
Possession Based Gameplay
Since taking over the team, Igor Stimac has been a vocal proponent of possession-based football. The go-to strategy has been to build up from the back with ground passes. This is in stark contrast to the previous boss Stephen Constantine’s straightforward style of play. While the concept is progressive and ambitious, it should not be pursued for its own sake.
Possession should be used as a technique rather than a philosophy in India. In addition, opponents do their studies, and methods have become predictable. As a result, there is a need to be flexible with game plans. The pitch, according to Stimac, was not suited to play ‘normal’ football in the second game against Nepal, therefore India used long balls.
Find a Partner for Centre-Back
Chinglensana Singh has firmly established himself in the starting lineup, but he requires a reliable partner. If one of Sandesh Jhingan or Chinglensana is hurt, India will be without a third center-back. Jhingan, who is out with an injury, did not play in the two friendlies. He will almost certainly be unable to compete in the upcoming SAFF Championships.
Clearly, neither Pritam Kotal nor Shubhasish Bose can play with the Hyderabad FC defense in the future. Stimac has to find a well-known stopper who can step in and build a solid relationship with ‘Sana’ Singh. There was a glaring lack of coordination amongst the defense, and they would have been punished against a better team than Nepal.
India redeemed itself by defeating Nepal 1-2 in the second International Friendly. The hosts dominated the first half but failed to capitalize on their opportunities in front of the goal. The Blue Tigers came back with a vengeance. The next SAFF Championship, on the other hand, is possibly the most important litmus test for Stimac, who must perform well and produce favorable outcomes.