Competition for places driving Blue Tigers forward together, feels Stimac

AIFF Media Team

NEW DELHI: Head coach Igor Stimac believes that “there is an ongoing competition for positions on the team.”

A day before India’s international friendly against Oman at Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai, UAE tomorrow (7:15 pm IST), Stimac said, “When I became a national team coach , I even mentioned to Sunil (Chhetri) that he has to fight for his position. This fight lasts forever. Without this continuous struggle, there is no success. “

“I can’t trust the past. I can pick the team based on past results, but these players have to work hard. We watch them closely, then discuss the players who are part of the starting XI, ”he added.

The Blue Tigers, who have been camping in Dubai since March 15, will play another friendly against the United Arab Emirates on March 29.

“Our goal – from the start, has been to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup (2023). We have three games left at this stage of qualifying. We try to give the players enough time to do a quality job before these games, ”said Stimac.

With up to 13 under-23 players in the Blue Tigers squad, 27-year-old center-back Sandesh Jhingan highlighted the team’s progress as a unit, citing the next generation of talent who appeared as an example.

“To be honest, it’s good to see all the new boys who have arrived. Players like Apuia (Lalengmawia Ralte), Suresh Singh and Sana (Chinglensana Singh) have shown they have what it takes to be here , and impressed the coach, ”Jhingan said.

“When I was new to the team I was guided by the senior players, but these guys are already so mentally strong. I am sure they will be successful once they get the chance. These guys are all talented, balanced and the future looks really bright, ”he continued.

Stimac will face a familiar counterpart when India takes on Oman – fellow Croatian Branko Ivankovic will be in charge of Oman’s canoe.

“My good friend Branko is now with Oman. He’s a great coach. He has coached top teams like Iran in the World Cup before and won major trophies during his career. We both know each other well, ”said Stimac. “We saw Oman play against Jordan (March 20), and we are confident. They are patient but physical and don’t take a lot of risks. We have to find a way to play well against their style of play. “

Sandesh Jhingan believes India has also started to gain some respect from teams like Oman and the United Arab Emirates in recent years.

“Teams like Oman and the United Arab Emirates also see us as tough opponents. If you watch Oman’s game at Guwahati, we deserved to win that game. Yes, we could have done better and we were disappointed, but matches like this show that India is a strong team and the growth is there. We have earned respect in Asia, ”he said.

“This is why they are now inviting us to come and play international friendlies against them. It shows how much we’ve grown. The more we play against such teams, ”continued Jhingan.

Meanwhile, Stimac reiterated that the Blue Tigers continue to gain experience in every game and training session.

“We learn every day and with every training session. The learning never stops for us. There isn’t as much pressure on us when we play against teams like Qatar or Oman. But when we face teams like Bangladesh from Afghanistan, it behooves us to create the chances and control the game. Our intention is to play good football, and that’s what we’re working on, ”he said.

India’s international friendly against Oman kicks off at 7.15 p.m. IST at Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Thursday, March 25, 2021, and will be broadcast live on Eurosport.

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