Stimac promises more positive football against Thailand
India are due to face Thailand in the King’s Cup 2019 third-place playoff match at the Chang Arena in Buriram, on Saturday. Having lost the opening match of the tournament against the mighty Curacao in his first match in charge of the Indian national team, new head coach Igor Stimac will look to use the opportunity to further tune his squad and to instil his philosophy on his players. Despite the 3-1 loss, the young Indian squads, with six players making their debuts, showcased a lot of positives in the Curacao match - aspects Stimac would definitely try and build on in the future, beginning with the Thailand match.
During the pre-match press conference, Stimac took stock of the previous performance and laid down the plans for the immediate future. "Before coming over here, I said to my players we are going to follow our way of work. I told them not to get troubled by the results of the games in the beginning. We know that what’s more important for us is to keep away from injuries until we finish here and preparing well for the second phase of our work - the Hero Intercontinental Cup in India," he said.
"I said that we are in a position now to try to change the way we play. It is very difficult to implement a completely different structure to what the players are used. I'm glad that even though we lost the first match, our fans back home were happy to see us play the way we did against a team like Curacao, a side 20 places ahead of us in the rankings," he added.
Stimac also stressed the importance of not letting heads drop despite a few foreseeable setbacks and keep working towards the larger goal. "My role as Indian head coach is to awaken the hearts of Indian people and we can do that only if we play stylish football. If we want to win their hearts it will be with our passion, with our way of playing, and we are going to follow our way of work. We know that at the beginning of our work, some results will suffer. It's always like that. But the positiveness which we are creating and positive environment around this team is giving us a lot of optimism. Especially the young players we have in our squad, signal a great future of Indian football," he stated.
Players like Sahal Abdul Samad, Brandon Fernandes, Amarjit Singh and Raynier Fernandes gave a good account of themselves during their national team debuts against Curacao. The Croatian declared that his focus would be to build them up to become the cornerstones of Indian football going forward. "We are going to build on these youngsters with the help of more experienced players like Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan, Pronay Halder and others. Our real strength and force should be young players. What they showed in the game against Curacao is fantastic for Indian football," he opined.
Pushed for a comment on his team selection for the Thailand match, Stimac revealed, "Everyone deserves to get a chance to show what they can do. So, whoever did not play a part in the first match will get a chance to play and show if they have more quality than the players who played against Curacao. I expect them to make my job more difficult in the future."
India and Thailand faced off in the AFC Asian Cup back in January, where the Blue Tigers came out as convincing 4-1 winners. Defender Sandesh Jhingan, who was a part of the match, was at the briefing too and was asked if the previous result would give the team extra confidence going into Satuday's clash. "It was a good result for us in the Asian Cup, beating Thailand 4-1. But what’s gone is gone, it’s a new match. Things have changed for both sides, for them and for us as well. It’s going to be a different game. But we take a lot of confidence going into it. We have achieved success against them last time. For us, we have to just go out there and play with the right character, the right passion, the right determination, stick to the plan and hope for the best result," he replied.
Read the match preview here.