Vietnam is on the sights for the Blue Tigers, and their head coach Igor Stimac is one who is upbeat about India’s two matches against the hosts and Singapore. The Indian Football fans of yesteryears will remember the famous moment exactly two decades ago, when an U-23 Indian team clinched victory in the LG Cup, a senior tournament.
While that memorable moment was 20 years ago, the Blue Tigers will go to the Hung Thinh Friendly Football Tournament full of confidence, and on a three-match winning streak.
“We are definitely capable of winning the tournament, but I think it’s the small things that will decide who win it,” said India head coach Igor Stimac. “Obviously, Vietnam have a lot of momentum with their performances in the last couple of years. They have a good team, and are playing at home, which is why they are probably the favourites, but we also have a good chance as we have a young squad.
“I think we have enough quality to match them, and if we stay positive and play with a good mindset, we can do it,” he continued.
While the confidence in the squad is high, Stimac was wary of the fact that most of his players are still in pre-season mode right now, and that rotation would be the order of the day for the Blue Tigers.
“It’s a good challenge for us, though we need to make sure that we combine and rotate our players in a proper way. We need to make sure that nobody gets injured, because most of the players we have are still in pre-season mode, and they need to be nurtured,” said Stimac. “We need to be careful because we are facing two sides that are in full swing competitions.”
However, the Indian Football Team has enough momentum to not be too worried about that at the moment, feels the 55-year-old.
“With regards to the momentum that we have after the June AFC Asian Cup Qaulifiers (India beat Cambodia, Afghanistan and Hong Kong in back-to-back matches), the optimism is high and the positiveness which currently surrounds the team should only bode well for us.”
While the coach took pride in the performances of the youngsters in the squad, he also outlined the importance of building the core strength of the players in order to do well on the international stage.
“I am so proud of the boys and the individual goals that they have achieved – more than 90 per cent of them needed to be given individual programmes because they did not have any,” informed Stimac. “It was very important that we worked on the muscle strength of the boys in the squad. If we look at the boys from Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Australia, there’s always such a big difference and technical ability means nothing these days if you don’t have power.”
The Indian Football Team leaves for Vietnam on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 from Kolkata, and will travel to Ho Chi Minh City, where they will participate in the Hung Thinh Friendly Football Tournament.
The 23-player list is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem and Amrinder Singh.
Defenders: Sandesh Jhingan, Roshan Singh Naorem, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Harmanjot Singh Khabra and Narender.
Midfielders: Liston Colaco, Muhammed Ashique Kuruniyan, Vikram Partap Singh, Udanta Singh Kumam, Anirudh Thapa, Brandon Fernandes, Yasir Mohammad, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Sahal Abdul Samad, Rahul Kannoly Praveen and Lallianzuala Chhangte.Forwards: Sunil Chhetri and Ishan Pandita.
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee