Sunil Chhetri: Nice that we are all fighting for a place in the team

The Indian captain says that the team is shaping well under the new head coach, Igor Stimac.

Sunil Chhetri says head coach Igor Stimac will know his best starting XI before the first week of September.   -  AP

The Indian captain Sunil Chhetri said the national football team is shaping well under a brave and knowledgeable coach like Igor Stimac and hoped that the side will get a settled look before the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup get underway in September.

“Every coach wants to decide the first 14 before every tournament. I am sure even our coach is looking for that. He is sorting his players out and will have his selection ready before the first week of September when we have our qualifiers,” Chhetri said during an interaction. “As for now he is seeing how the players are pushing each other to have the best possible name for each slot. It is fine now that we are each fighting for a place and giving our coach the choices to have the right balance in the side,” the Indian captain said ahead of his team’s crucial match against DPR Korea in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup on Saturday.

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The captain appreciated his coach’s approach saying that Stimac is the “bravest” coach he has seen in his long association with the National team and is the right man to encourage the youngsters. “Technically he is very knowledgeable and understands modern football. He works very hard with the team and is helpful to all the players, be it a senior or a junior. The best part about him is that he is very brave and has not come with a prejudice and wants to give everyone a chance, which is not very common among coaches,” Chhetri said. “This tournament (Intercontinental Cup) is very important for the team because it pits closely ranked opponents allowing a fair assessment of our abilities,” the captain asserted.

When asked about the changes brought by Stimac, Chhetri said, “the best system I feel is the one that is mostly adopted in the League. In the league (ISL) we see a lot of passing and build up from the back and that what we are seeing here with Stimac who wants the players to have possession of the ball and start the attacks from the back.”