Sunil Chhetri: Igor Stimac gives anyone a chance who does well in training

The Indian team is still far from grasping and implementing Igor Stimac's vision, feels the India captain.

Sunil Chhetri at an event in New Delhi. The Indian national team captain is playing for Bengaluru FC in the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL).   -  Anant Kaur

India head coach Igor Stimac keeps players on their toes during training due to his open mind with regards to team selection, captain Sunil Chhetri has said.

“Best thing apart from his technical knowledge is, he gives anyone a chance who does well in training,” Chhetri revealed here when speaking to mediapersons at the launch of Herba Life Fit Families Fest, 2019.

“You can see with his team selection; you can never guess. He comes to the training and sees who does what, and I'll give him the chance. And it is a great thing because all the players are on their toes. Even if you're a first XI starter, if you lag behind you're going to be left out,” he explained.

However, the team still has a fair bit of distance to cover to grasp and implement Stimac's vision. “We're still far from being in sync with whatever he wants us to do,” he said.

The team pays a lot of attention on its fitness under Stimac, stated Chhetri.

“[Stimac] is very well supported by the coaching staff with someone called Lukas professor. He is actually a professor and works very, very hard on core stability, on exercises before training, a lot of quick movements, a lot of gym work.”

He added: “If you come to our dining hall at the national team you will hardly see anyone eating stuff which you are not suppose to be eat. Even the buffet has changed, you see all the boys, they all look ripped now.”

A sobering moment under Stimac's reign was when the team faltered against Bangladesh in a FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifier contest in Kolkata. A late goal saved the side from defeat, but wasn't enough to keep India's chances of qualifying alive.

Chhetri admitted the team's performance wasn't up to the mark. “We're not happy with the performance against Bangladesh, we missed a lot of chances. We did play well, but the strikers missed a lot of chances. That is why we lost two points in the game we shouldn't have lost. And that really bothers us. We'll try our best to rectify that,” he stated.

“As a game we didn't play badly. It's just that we didn't convert our chances. If you see the replay, we had some seven-eight chances. If you don't convert your chances, you won't win games. As simple as that. So, that is the prime reason why we didn't get the two points,” Chhetri said.

On a personal front, Chhetri, who is 35, said he had “outstanding results” in terms of his body's recovery from fatigue under the vegan diet.

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