Mindset is to win against Uzbekistan: India head coach Igor Stimac
The Blue Tigers hope to secure their first point in the AFC Asian Cup against Uzbekistan.
India Football Team head coach Igor Stimac is prepared for another tough challenge as they face Uzbekistan in their second group match of the AFC Asian Cup at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on Thursday.
After a challenging 2-0 defeat to Australia in their opening game, the Blue Tigers are determined to make a comeback in their second group-stage match against Uzbekistan. Despite showcasing indomitable fighting spirit and defensive solidity against the Socceroos, Stimac’s men couldn't secure any points from that match.
Also Read: Know Your Opponents: Uzbekistan men’s national football team
Now facing the 68th-ranked Uzbekistan, who remain undefeated in their last eight games and are coming off a 0-0 draw against Syria, the Blue Tigers aim to secure their first point in the tournament. However, Stimac acknowledges the tough test ahead and emphasizes the need to treat the mistakes made in the Australia game as lessons for moving forward.
“It’s a huge game for us again. The first one against Australia was a fantastic experience for our players, which I hope will serve us in the future for bigger things. This will be another difficult game for us,” Stimac said in the pre-match press conference.
.@stimac_igor backs @GurpreetGK and praises the fans ahead of #INDvUZB! 🗣️— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) January 17, 2024
Watch the match LIVE only on @JioCinema & @Sports18 at 8 PM on 18th Jan! 📺#AsianCup2023 #BlueTigers #BackTheBlue #AsianDream #IndianFootball | @qatarmanjappada @BluePilgrims @IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/nWuhj78voz
Stimac had words of praise for the opponent, describing their recent performances that showcased their strengths and capabilities. He believes that Uzbekistan will try to apply extra pressure from the very beginning after being unable to find the back of the net in their opening match.
“Uzbekistan are a very good competitive side. Their recent results are proving what kinds of strengths they have,” he stated.
“They didn’t get a victory in the opening game of the tournament (against Syria), which is putting them under pressure. We can expect pressure from them from the very first minute, and we need to find a way to handle that. Our boys are happy for another opportunity, another challenge, and are excited about the game,” the Indian head coach added.
Stimac will be forced to make changes in the team, with fresh injuries reported from the previous match. Additionally, he has ruled out Sahal Abdul Samad, who is yet to fully recover fitness.
“Sahal is still not ready. We have a couple of players with certain problems from the Australia game. Changes will be there, Changes are coming,” he commented.
India did create a couple of openings against Australia, but they need to be more clinical in the final third, especially when playing against higher-ranked teams.
Stimac acknowledges their hard work in the training sessions, and he believes players should illustrate their hunger to be more competitive to achieve their goals.
"We work on finishing every day when we are together," he said.
“Football is all about hard work, practice, and repeating things during practice. That’s how you’ll get better. Our boys need to have the hunger to compete more and improve more on a daily basis, or else we won’t go anywhere,” Stimac added.
Despite Uzbekistan's higher ranking and superior strength compared to India, Stimac maintains his belief in a winning mentality and is also determined to secure a positive result from this match.
“Mindset is to win. It is something we’ve been working on from the very first day of our work—that is always winning. It’s all open,” he said.
Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh accompanied Stimac in the press conference ahead of their next game against Uzbekistan. During the press conference, the custodian discussed his team's preparation for the upcoming match against the White Wolves.
“It’s a big game for us tomorrow, and we are looking forward to it. We have studied what Uzbekistan did in the game against Syria, prepared our own strategies, and are ready for the game.”