Ignoring the gloom the morning after where the sun had been preferring to play hide and seek behind the grey clouds, the Blue Tigers push forward together in recovery mode. The morning pool session had all relaxing, making all efforts to reduce and flush out the soreness. They look “happy and confident.”
Head Coach Igor Stimac looks ahead. “I need to say a big thank you to all the boys. I had asked for two things from them – a clean sheet, and goals. I would have been happier if we scored more goals. But I am happy and confident of what’s coming up,” he stated.
India next play Afghanistan in their second match of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata on June 11. Afghanistan had gone down to Hong Kong 1-2 in their opening encounter.
“A margin of 4-0 would have been a fair result,” Stimac pointed out at India’s missed chances against Cambodia. “We had more clear chances. But we need to be grateful and humble, as it’s Sunil again. I expect goals from Liston, Udanta, Ashique, Sahal – they need to start scoring too. Every game brings different things. It’s how quick players can adapt,” he stressed. “I hope against Afghanistan it will be different. We are not afraid to come out and play.”
Sunil Chhetri who scored both of India’s goals echoed the coach’s sentiments mentioning the “margin of error is very small.”
“It was important that we kept a clean sheet. I don’t want to sound harsh but we could have done better. We will be watching the videos and working on them,” Sunil averred. “As per the new format, there’s just one match per team. Hence, the margin of error is very small,” he stressed.
“To start off the qualifiers with a victory means a lot. The conditions weren’t easy, and it was humid. That is a learning experience for the next game,” he informed.
Stimac made a special mention of the younger players, all of whom “are ready to fight for the National team.”
“We need such players in our side who are not afraid of anything. All of them – Suresh, Akash, Roshan, Anwar – they are our secret weapons. They are fearless, and are the type of players whom we need in the National team.”
However, Stimac also sounded a cautious note. “Only one-third of the job has been done. There is scope for a lot of improvement. I as a coach can analyse our opponents, find their weakness and show it to our players. We need to implement it on the field.”