Stimac: Players left their hearts out on the pitch in the second half

India and Bangladesh played out a 1-1 draw in their third Group E encounter of the joint FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 preliminary Qualifiers campaign at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Tuesday. It was the visitors who opened the scoring in the first-half through Saad Uddin but a late Adil Khan header on the 88th minute helped the Blue Tigers earn a point from the match. In the larger context, it was a disappointing result for Igor Stimac's men as they squandered a golden opportunity to climb up the group table.

During the post-match press conference, Stimac stated that he felt his team deserved to win the tie but rued the 'silly' goal his team conceded and missed opportunities. "I think we deserved to win this game, we pushed until the end and created enough chances, but our finishing was not good enough today. We knew they (Bangladesh) would have chances because when you push high and play with risk, then you can expect to face some problems. We conceded a silly goal. We can’t expect to win the game if we concede like this.”

Stressing on the importance of working even harder, Stimac said, "We need to work on many things, but my appreciation goes out to my players. They gave their everything in the second half, they left their hearts out on the pitch, and when they entered the dressing room, I wanted to hug them and be supportive, and tell them to keep working hard and the wins will come."

While India’s defence seemed impenetrable against Qatar in the last match, they seemed somewhat out of sorts on Tuesday. Talking about the defensive woes in the match, head coach Stimac says, "Sandesh Jhingan was a big miss. He was brilliant against Qatar. I said before the match to my players that when you play against teams like Bangladesh, who defend with at least nine players, passing from the back needs to be quicker to open up the gaps. For some reason, they were not able to do as they were told. They kept the ball for more than three seconds and that is not acceptable."

The result comes as a big blow to India's chances of qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2022 or the AFC Asian Cup 2023 but the Croat refused to throw in the towel just yet. "There's still a lot of points on the table. Yes, we lost two points today. We will go for all the points on the table, no matter who the opponents are. We need to fight for it. That's the attitude we are going to show. It's quite obvious there will be a lot more surprising results in this group,” he declared.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day was proud of the way his players conducted themselves on the night. “We are behind India in FIFA Rankings. All the credit goes to the boys for being away from home and almost winning the game. This is an unbelievable result for us," the Englishman stated.

Read the full match report here.

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