Indian men’s football team head coach Igor Stimac lamented the lapses that led to the team’s defeat against Afghanistan in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Guwahati on Tuesday and felt some of his players couldn’t bring their full intensity to the table. 

The Blue Tigers opened the scoring through Sunil Chhetri’s penalty as the Indian captain marked his 150th appearance for the country with his 94th international goal but Afghanistan stormed back in the second half to turn the tables on the hosts and take all three points. 

The Croatian believed his team weren’t consistent with their endeavours throughout the 90 minutes for them to put the visitors under more pressure. 

"You can see that half of our players are not able to bring that intensity and I cannot change that in five days, I am sorry," Stimac said after the match.

"I repeat myself again and again and again. I hope you remember all these players were the same players in June-July and Afghanistan is not a different team than Kuwait and Lebanon teams that we had beaten and dominated,” he added. 

Stimac played down suggestions that his team were tactically outplayed on the night and put the result down to individual mistakes. 

“When you concede goals from individual mistakes, then that’s got nothing to do with the tactical work. For most part of the game, we had the control, so I don’t see any tactical problem there in that regard,” he said. 

“Being defeated from the penalty like we conceded a penalty, it’s another story. These things shouldn’t happen to us. We have enough experience already in these situations. We shouldn’t concede these penalties, such goals. It’s too easy,” he added. 

Offensively, India did not have a single shot on target from open play with the only shot on the Afghanistan goal coming from the penalty spot through which the Blue Tigers took the lead. Stimac through believes the lack of goals is down to the decision-making inside the box and not tactical weakness. 

“We worked so hard to score one goal. We need four, or five clear chances to score one goal. This means that we are creating chances. We had enough chances today to win the game. But we didn’t win it. I cannot go on the pitch to score goals for our players,” he said. 

“I accept the tactical problems if we are not creating chances, not playing nice football, progressive football if we are not having it mentioned, I would accept responsibility without any problem,” he added. 

Stimac though still believes the team can qualify for the third round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers. India face Kuwait at home before travelling to Qatar for their final game. The Blue Tigers remain second in the group with four points, one point ahead of Kuwait. 

“I feel we can qualify and I told you at the press conference prior to this, we’re going to be a different team after the long camp, definitely,” he added.