Stimac: My defence was top class today
The Blue Tigers notched up their first win under the stewardship of new head coach Igor Stimac, after beating Thailand 1-0 in the King’s Cup 2019 third-place playoff match at the Chang Arena in Buriram on Saturday. Midfielder Anirudh Thapa scored the solitary goal of the match after latching onto a smart Adil Khan cutback in the first half.
Speaking at the post-match press conference after the win, the 51-year-old expressed his delight and said, "I feel happy. Thanks to all my players, my staff and everyone who helped us fulfil everything we wanted to do in the last two weeks. So, congratulations to everyone in AIFF. I’m especially happy for the people back in India, who stayed positive even after we lost the first game against Curacao."
Continuing his appreciation of the Indian fans, the Croat said, "They were happy with the way we played, how we organized things on the pitch. I promise we will be doing that in the future as well. I’m especially proud of the players because as you see, so many young players came to the fore."
Talking about the takeaways from the tournament, Stimac said, "I got exactly what I wanted in my first phase of work. I have competition in my team for every position and that’s what makes me very happy as a coach."
The India defence, on the day, looked a much-improved unit from the one which struggled in the first half against Curacao. When asked about the reason behind the striking progress, Stimac revealed, "I was a defender playing at top level. So, I think, I can show a few things, work on the weaknesses and that is what we have been doing. Explaining things to them, working on the pitch and the result today was massive. That was just fantastic. Clean sheet, nothing else to say."
Further analysing the match at a tactical level, Stimac voiced, "The game could have gone either way. After we scored the goal, we gave Thailand the possession of the ball. We didn’t insist on possession. We tried to wait and hurt them on counter attacks."
"We had chances and could have finished the game off in the first half. We didn’t and Thailand played well in the second half. They were very organized, using the flanks, trying to put quality crosses. But my defenders were top class today. It was not possible for Thailand to score today with my defenders working like that," he added.
Read the match report here.