Boys need to keep competing for Indian team positions: Stimac

The international friendly matches are part of the team's preparation for the final round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifying matches which will be held in Kolkata from June 8.

India next plays Belarus in another international friendly on March 26.   -  REUTERS

Indian men's football team head coach Igor Stimac lavished praise on debutant Roshan Singh for his performance in the international friendly against Bahrain, a match which his side lost 1-2.

India equalised in the second half after conceding in the 38th minute before Bahrain struck the winner just before final whistle on Wednesday night.

"I am very happy about young Roshan Singh who confirmed he is a future Indian star -- not just in the Indian Super League, but also at the international stage," Stimac stated.

READ: Bahrain vs India: Bheke's goal in vain as India loses 2-1 to Bahrain

Roshan was involved in the team's only goal as it was his assist that Rahul Bheke headed in to restore parity in the 59th minute.

"It was a good day for all the boys to gain the experience. They all did well and they need to keep competing for their positions in the national team," the coach added.

India next plays Belarus in another international friendly on March 26.

India had conceded a penalty early in the first half which was saved diving to his left by captain and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

"I looked at the coach, and he pointed me to the left. I was lucky enough to save it," Gurpreet said.

"It was an important match for us, and there are many learnings. Given the fact that we had very less time to prepare, the boys did well. We need to keep our heads high and look forward to the next game," Gurpreet, who has played 49 international matches so far, stated.

ALSO READ: Igor Stimac: Gurpreet preferred goalkeeper in friendlies against Bahrain, Belarus

The match also saw central defender Bheke scoring his first international goal.

"It feels great to get the name on the scoresheet. But individual stats don't matter much. We had started the game well, and got a goal early in the second half.

"Looking back, I feel we should have done better. The boys who came in did well. We have another match coming up in 3 days, and it will be a challenging one," Bheke said.

The international friendly matches are part of the team's preparation for the final round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifying matches which will be held in Kolkata from June 8.

India has been clubbed in Group D along with Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia. 24 teams have been divided into six groups and the group winners, and the five best second placed teams will earn a ticket to the Asian Cup in China next year.

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