Good lesson for us, says India coach Igor Stimac after King's Cup loss to Curacao

Igor Stimac felt his Indian side learned a "good lesson" during its 1-3 loss to Curacao in the King's Cup 2019 on Wednesday.

Igor Stimac's first game as India coach ended in a 1-3 loss to Curacao in the King's Cup on Wednesday.   -  AIFF

Igor Stimac felt his Indian side learned a "good lesson" during its 1-3 loss to Curacao in the King's Cup 2019 on Wednesday.

Captain Sunil Chhetri, who became the most-capped Indian international with 108 appearances, scored in the 31st minute but goals from Luis Bonevacia, Elson Hooi and Leandro Bacuna meant Curacao progressed to the final.

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Talking after the game, the newly-appointed Indian coach said: "This is a good lesson for the Indian players. You can feel the European academy’s work in the (Curacao) players’ movement, you can feel it in their self-confidence. This is an absolutely different brand of football."

He added: "To grow to that level, from where they (Indian players) are now, it takes many working hours, much more discipline, passion, and self-confidence. It is a long process. But what is keeping our faith and optimism up is that we have young players. Another good thing about the Indian players is that they are quick learners. They learn together."

While the side conceded three goals in the opening half, Stimac made three changes in the second half - handing Raynier Fernandes, Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Soosairaj Michael debuts - that offered the side much more stability. Rahul Bheke, Sahal Abdul Samad and Brandon Fernandes also made their debuts for the team.

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"Our team was like the weather today - one half the sun was shining and the other half there was a storm. After we made changes at half-time, we started playing better and we were controlling possession much better. Especially in closing the midfield down and their dangerous passes," he said.

The Croat went on to note that his side needed to improve its decision making in the attacking third. "We had 5-6 good chances in the second half to score second goal and maybe come back and put some pressure on them in the last 10 minutes, but our decisions were not good in the final third. When we were supposed to shoot we passed and vice versa. There is a long way for us to keep learning," he said.

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He also went on to laud the youngsters for their gritty display. "I'm very proud of the team's achievements today, especially in the second half. We didn't give up, we didn't put our heads down and kept playing and creating chances. The young players showed great character and showed no fear on the pitch and that's what I like," he said.

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