Asian Cup too soon to think about for Stimac as India seeks success in Intercontinental Cup 2023

India is gearing up for the AFC Asian Cup, where it is grouped with Australia, Syria and Uzbekistan but Stimac that his side is taking one tournament at a time

Published : Jun 03, 2023 16:45 IST , Chennai - 3 MINS READ

File image of Indian football team coach Igor Stimac.
File image of Indian football team coach Igor Stimac. | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

File image of Indian football team coach Igor Stimac. | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR


India coach Igor Stimac stressed on the need for squad depth as the Blue Tigers get ready for the Intercontinental Cup, set to be played in Bhubaneswar next week.

“With such heat and humidity, it is impossible to expect that we are going to play the same eleven players in each game. That’s why we have 26 players with us, to be sure that, in case of injuries during the games or training sessions, we have replacements,” Stimac told reporters in a media interaction on Saturday.

Stimac’s men are gearing up for its consecutive AFC Asian Cup appearance, where it is grouped with Asian powerhouse Australia, Syria and Uzbekistan. But the coach said that his side is taking only one tournament at a time.

“We are not thinking about Australia yet. When the time comes, we’ll analyse their last five games, their set pieces, their moves and the patterns to match them on the field,” he said.

Having joined the Indian national team in May 2019, Stimac has won the SAFF Championship and the Tri-Nations Series with the Men in Blue so far and has said that the Asian Cup will be his last tournament in charge of them.

“I do not think about it. I am just concentrating on the work that needs to be done [for the Asian Cup] so that I can be represented in the best possible way in the Asian Cup,” he added.

“We’re going to give our best, starting with the tournaments ahead of us. That’s why we are working so hard to improve these boys in their individual abilities.”

The Asian Cup is scheduled in January 2024 and Stimac said that discussions were underway regarding a national camp for shortlisted players separately but there is no confirmation yet.

“Discussions were there, some talks about 12 or 14 days of a national camp but no official word on this,” he said.

Preparations for Intercontinental Cup

India comes into the Intercontinental Cup after winning the Tri-Nations Series in Manipur, where it beat Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan. Some of the players in the camp were also involved in the Super Cup, which Odisha FC won.

“We need to understand this is a difficult time for the players because this time last year, they were spending holidays with their families and enjoying the off-season,” Stimac said.

“This is different, the mental fatigue is obviously there but the boys are really professional. They understand how important this might be in their careers. They are giving everything on the pitch.”

Stimac had announced a 41-member preparatory camp on May 4, which has been trimmed to 26, after five players were ruled out with injury and two players requested exclusion, citing personal reasons.

The same side will play in the SAFF Championship later this month, which India enters as the defending champion.

“In the past three weeks, a lot of work has been executed starting with the first four days of testing (the players), where we tested their speed, agility, explosive power, endurance and body fatigue.

Seventeen training sessions were executed with two practice matches, in which we played against the under-19 sides, scoring 11 goals and conceding only one. We are getting fitter every day and I expect the players to be in their top form by the second game of the Intercontinental Cup,” Stimac explained.

At the Intercontinental Cup, India will open the campaign against Mongolia on June 9 and then play Vanuatu and Lebanon on June 12 and 15, respectively.

The final is scheduled on June 18.

Full India squad:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh and Phurba Lachenpa Tempa.
Defenders: Subhasish Bose, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Mehtab Singh and Rahul Bheke.
Midfielders: Liston Colaco, Ashique Kuruniyan, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rohit Kumar, Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Lalengmawia Ralte, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rowllin Borges and Nandha Kumar.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Rahim Ali and Ishan Pandita.


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