Stimac admits draw helps neither team
India fought back after going a goal down to register a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan in their fourth match of the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 joint qualifiers match played at the Central Republican Stadium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Thursday. The home side scored first in the dying minutes of the first-half and seemed favourites to secure all three points, until substitute Seiminlen Doungel struck for the Blue Tigers in stoppage time.
At the post-match press conference, India head coach Igor Stimac felt his players deserved a bit more than just one point on the back of their second-half display. “I think that everyone who was here today and everybody who was watching on TV could enjoy. The game was very exciting. There was plenty of football. Good action, chances. At the end, neither of us can be happy with a draw, but that’s how it finished. Somehow, I have a feeling that we deserved more out of this game. We created more chances than Afghanistan. We were not lucky enough to score from these clear situations,” he said.
Asked about the situation his team finds himself in in Group E after the result, Stimac stated, “We all know that Qatar and Oman are favourties in our group. And the difference between India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is very small. One situation can decide the game. Never mind who is having more ball possession, who is creating more chances, you can score from one chance and win the game.”
Switching back to the performance on the night, the 52-year-old remarked, “I am very happy about how my team performed today especially in the second-half. We are in the build up process. We are building a new team for the future. And we are becoming a team which is very difficult to beat. And we are playing football now. You could see tonight that India is playing very exciting football. We have many new young players coming through. We are opening the door for them.”
“It’s difficult to expect great results now. But we are gaining lots of experience and we are going to become a great team in the future. Never before was India coming back from negative situations. Last two games, we came back in the last minute. Now we are the team which never gives up. We are becoming the team with character, with charisma. The team which is pushing up when the result is negative and that’s what makes me proud as a coach,” he added.
With just three points from four fixtures, Stimac’s men face an uphill in their next match which will be away to Oman in five days’ time. Looking ahead to the match, the Croat maintained, “There is very difficult game for us against Oman. Oman is even better now than when we faced them in Guwahati. It is going to be very difficult for us. We need to see how quick we can recover from such a difficult game that we had tonight. But I’m confident. I have enough players. I am not afraid to put out a whole new team against Oman.”
Read the Match Report here.