Since Igor Stimac took charge of the Indian national team in May, the team’s style of play has revolved around keeping the ball and building from the back.
The players, who underwent a training camp in Goa that began on August 20, have responded positively to it and are “loving” the new system according to Kerala Blasters’ center-back Sandesh Jhingan.
“Everyone has seen how the coach wants us to play. It's not easy to implement a new style. We have to be brave and I can say that from our games against Curacao (King's Cup) to Syria (Intercontinental Cup), we have improved a lot,” he said, speaking ahead of India’s first FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier against Oman.
Adding to it, he said, “Training has been about building patterns on the pitch and making them a natural part of our games.”
“As a centre-back, I have to play out from the back and every player is adapting to his new role as well. Off the field, we are studying as well and we keep getting videos and clippings from the staff, that help us learn better.”
One of the key players for the Croatian manager has been Sahal Abdul Samad, who has appeared in all of India's five international games under him. He stated that he has developed a “great understanding” with his fellow midfielders.
“Training has been intense – we are always pushing each other that extra yard. We have developed a great understanding in midfield and know each other's movements – when to make what run and when to stay back. Knowing that I have the support behind me also gives me the confidence to push forward as well,” said Sahal.
Chennaiyin FC midfielder Anirudh Thapa, who scored the winner in India's King's Cup win against Thailand in June, said that he likes what the coach expects from his players.
“He wants us to keep the ball and keep possession. I like it and it suits me well. Adapting to it is a challenge but we are gelling well together in midfield. We are working on improving our understanding and game-reading,” he explained.
“With the previous matches we have played, we got to learn our strengths and weaknesses and now we are working on them accordingly,” Bengaluru FC winger Udanta Singh added.
“The coach wants to build up from the back but it is not easy so we keep trying. Mistakes will happen but the coach is there to help us out. I like whatever works for everyone.”
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