Indian football team heads into Intercontinental Cup with World Cup qualifiers in mind

When the Indian side takes on Tajikistan, Sunil Chhetri and his colleagues will not just be looking at retaining the title but also at adapting to the new shape and style that Stimac is looking to infuse in the team.

The Indian team trained in Mumbai before heading off to Ahmedabad for the tournament.   -  AIFF

As the Indian national team prepared to make its second international outing in two months, the new head coach Igor Stimac reminded that the prime objective of his side will be obtaining the necessary impetus for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting in September.

The Hero International Cup assignment is primarily being treated as a sparring session for the side to sharpen the skills that would give the team the impetus for the tough challenges ahead.

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“Football is so beautiful that it can surprise all of us. I wish we can become one of the nice surprises in the upcoming qualifiers. But I will not make promises. I will do my best on a daily basis working on the players so that they can improve and advance their game. We do not have much time but we will try to use it wisely,” Stimac said. The Croatian gaffer is looking to overhaul the Indian team and also its playing style. 

When the Indian side takes on Tajikistan in the opening game at the EKA Arena here on Sunday, Sunil Chhetri and his colleagues will not just be looking at retaining the title but also at adapting to the new shape and style that Stimac is looking to infuse in the team. 

Retaining the nucleus of side with some seniors like Chhetri, Sandesh Jinghan, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Pritam Kotal, Pronoy Halder, Udanta Singh and Rowllin Borges (and recalling Edathodika Anas from retirement), Stimac has infused a lot of young names who he thinks are the investment for the future.

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“It is more important for us get together certain things in our performance that will help us in doing well in the (FIFA World Cup 2022) qualifiers. We are now focused on doing well in the qualifiers and I will not at anytime put pressure on my players about results in this tournament,” was how Stimac lay down the team’s priority.

For the young blood in the side like Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul, Jobby Justin, Mandar Rao Desai it will be about displaying the right attributes which the head coach is looking for.

The fixtures:
July 07: India vs Tajikistan
July 08: Syria vs DPR Korea
July 10: Tajikistan vs Syria
July 13: India vs DPR Korea
July 15: DPR Korea vs Tajikistan
July 16: India vs Syria
July 19: Final