Impressed with several uncapped players in Hero ISL 2020-21, Stimac speaks of opportunities in the national team

National football coach Igor Stimac believes quite a few changes to the Indian team are on the cards on account of injuries and lack of enough game time. The Croatian is also quite impressed by the uncapped talent on display in the ongoing Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) and hopes when the opportunity comes their way, they will grab it with both hands.      

“I have watched every single game. Since the [Hero] ISL started, I am a happy man because I got bored without football, without doing my work and not having certainty about what’s going to happen,” Stimac told in an interview to Hindustan Times.

When asked if any new players had caught his eye, he replied: “Many. If you compare the last national team which was playing to now, we are facing some problems and there will be lots of changes.

“I will just mention a few names: Adil [Khan] is not playing regular football, [Michael] Soosairaj is injured, Udanta [Singh] and Ashique [Kuruniyan] are not there at all. Ashique because of injury when he was playing really well and Udanta cannot find himself [regularly in the starting XI] at the moment. Farukh [Choudhary] changed the club [from Jamshedpur FC to Mumbai City FC] and is not playing regular football. Amarjit Singh came from injury; he is still getting a few minutes on the pitch. So, the places are there to be taken. More than anything, I am very happy to see many youngsters emerging.”

Stimac went on to name a few uncapped players who he thought were impressive for their respective Hero ISL clubs. “Suresh [Wangjam], [Akash] Mishra, Asish Rai… At the moment, what makes me a very happy man is when I watch Hyderabad FC play. Because for most of the games in this season, they didn’t use more than three foreign players and look at the football they produce.

“Their two full-backs -- Mishra and Rai. They have a centre-back, [Chinglensana] Singh, who came from FC Goa, who is good with passing, still needs to improve on defending. Then you have [Mohammed] Yasir playing there in the middle, really nice. I enjoy Liston’s [Colaco] game also,” he said.

The 53-year-old is also impressed with the performance of India and ATK Mohun Bagan striker Manvir Singh who has hit the back of the net twice this season besides providing one assist for Antonio Lopez Habas’ side. “Manvir made a good choice changing the club [from FC Goa to ATK Mohun Bagan]. In most of the games he has been performing really well. He has scored a few goals which is very good. But he is also the player with energy who can hold the ball, who can pass and who understands the game. I can tell you that I didn’t make any wrong judgment when I saw him the first time. He has everything which a player needs for the national team,” Stimac said.

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