Stimac expects ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC players to be in better shape for Nepal friendlies
India national coach Igor Stimac expects the AFC Cup returnees to be at the top of their fitness game ahead of the Blue Tigers’ friendlies against Nepal scheduled for early next month.
The Indian team played Mohammedan Sporting in an exhibition game at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday as part of their ongoing preparations and won 2-0 thanks to goals from Farukh Choudhury and Ishan Pandita. Stimac has mixed feelings about their training so far in Kolkata.
“We can’t expect much after 10 days of preparation. The legs are still heavy from the load, and we need to slow down, and [help] refresh the players,” he told www.the-aiff.com.
“I am happy with the manner our players performed. They should have scored a few goals much earlier. But it was not easy under the heavy downpour, and on a heavy pitch.
“The conditions were challenging. The boys are all ready for 45 minutes, and we need to be careful going into the next two games against Nepal. We understand that the ATK Mohun Bagan and BFC players will be in better shape than others for two matches against Nepal.”
ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC recently featured in the AFC Cup Group D South Zone in the Maldives and the Mariners qualified for the inter-zone semi-final after topping the group with seven points from three games.
As many as 11 Indian players from these two Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) outfits were named for the camp earlier this month. These were: Amrinder Singh, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Pritam Kotal, Ashutosh Mehta, Subhasish Bose, Udanta Singh, Suresh Wangjam, Ashique Kuruniyan, Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh and Sunil Chhetri.
Amrinder, Kotal, Mehta, Bose, Colaco and Manvir are expected to join the camp on Friday, while Gurpreet, Udanta, Wangjam, Chhetri and Kuruniyan are expected to join the squad in New Delhi on August 29. The team leaves for Nepal the next day and will take the field on September 2 and September 5 against their neighbours.