Indian football coach Igor Stimac laid emphasis on replacing some key injured players in his squad, ahead of his side’s FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification matches against Kuwait and Qatar.
“The focus at the moment is how to replace those boys who were starting 11 players, such as Ashique Kuruniyan, Anwar Ali and Jeakson Singh (Currently nursing injuries). They were our strength in the latest successes we had. These boys played very good football; they were adding extra value to the whole team.
“We need to find a way to make a new composition to balance the team which will provide strength, especially at the back because we started conceding some goals, which I did not like lately, although some of the goals came after very poor refereeing decisions,” said Stimac in an interview to AIFF.
Stimac also spoke about the heated contests between India and Kuwait, in the SAFF Championship, won by the Blue Tigers.
“The games we played against them (SAFF Championship) came after a long camp preparation. And our boys should not rely on the latest success in the quality football which we played against Kuwait because now we are in a different position. The boys are coming from a different pace of football. So, we’re not gonna lie to ourselves and expect top quality football we’re going to present there.
Our focus is on the result and how to obtain the result in the opening game of the World Cup qualifiers. My advice for players will be to forget as soon as possible what happened in June and July against Kuwait and to concentrate on new challenges and new developments that might be ahead of us. And that’s the best way of approaching this game.”
After the Kuwait challenge, India will be up against Qatar. Stimac expressed his eagerness in squaring up against the 2022 World Cup host.
“We are going to try to find a way to win against Qatar at home. As simple as that. The important thing once again, is to mention that whoever is there, whoever is representing the country, he needs to leave everything on the pitch for the country.”
The Croatian also lavished praise on the facilities in Bhubaneshwar, where India will play both these matches.
“We were very happy in Bhubaneswar and I would love to be there as much as possible with our national team because the facilities, the training, the quality of the staff and the organisational skills are fantastic. That’s something each coach would love to have every time he gets the players together.
Another point is obviously the travel to training. We have a wonderful gym there, we have wonderful training pitches. People in the government there are very nice, they are there at any point to provide everything that is needed for the national team. So, I use this opportunity once again, to give a big thanks for the support they give to the national team and I just hope that we can pay them back with another win.”
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