India should have scored more goals to complete its dominance, felt head coach Igor Stimac as his side notched its sixth consecutive win at home outclassing a modest Mongolia 2-0 in the first round of the Intercontinental Cup. Stimac said he was “overall happy” for his team’s performance and picked up some outstanding individual performances that got the match in India’s favour.
“We are overall happy with our performance. We did everything we planned for the match - a clean sheet and a win. The boys enjoyed their time on the pitch, passing the ball, creating chances, and scoring goals. I feel a bit sorry that there were not many goals compared to the chances we created,” Stimac said after the win.
India, currently ranked 101 in the FIFA rankings, was an overwhelming favourite in the match but Mongolia, which ranked 183 in the world, impressed with a nice defensive organisation. “The Mongolian team defended well. They were good in the middle press but couldn’t trouble us with the high press as our midfielders like Apuia and Anirudh Thapa played their roles really well,” Stimac said.
Stimac also congratulated the talented winger Lallianzuala Chhangte, who was named the player of the match, for his remarkable professionalism. “He works so hard on a daily basis. You should make a movie about him as he is an inspiration for future generations, who are coming up and knocking on the door of the senior team. They should learn from him what it takes to be a professional footballer,” Stimac said.
The former Croatian World Cupper was also appreciative of the right-back Nikhil Poojary, who returned to the Indian team after almost four years. “I have seen Nikhil through the ISL season and find him maturing as a fullback with wonderful speed and tackling abilities. He needs to learn a bit about covering spaces with the centre backs but he has a lot of things in him to make a good fullback,” he said.
Another player who delighted Stimac with his performance was Sahal Abdul Samad. The player did not have a good ISL season but he showed his class wearing the national colours. “With how we analysed our opponents Mongolia, we wanted a player like Sahal to start today as he is capable of finding gaps, turning, creating chances, and scoring goals. I am so happy for him,” the head coach said about Sahal who found the lead within two minutes of the start.
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