Stimac ‘proud of his boys’ after comfortable win against Bangladesh
India head coach Igor Stimac was pleased with the way his team played for a 2-0 win against Bangladesh in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Monday night.
“We presented football as it should be. That's the way we always want to play. Of course, it's not always possible but when we are favourites against a lower-ranked team, it's something that we will like to present. The players did everything they could to get the win. So, all the credit to them for executing the game plan perfectly,” Stimac said at the post-match press conference.
The 53-year-old Croatian, who was under heavy scrutiny going into the Doha qualifiers, even more so after the defeat against Asian champions Qatar on Thursday night, continued: "The best defence against lower-ranked teams is attacking -- keeping them away from the ball. Just to explain, if we didn't keep doing what we were doing right throughout the game, we wouldn't have scored the second and allowed Bangladesh to come at us.”
India captain Sunil Chettri led from the front and scored a brace in the second half to help India move up to third in Group E, ahead of Afghanistan and only behind Qatar and Oman. Stimac believes 36-year-old Chhetri remains a force to reckon with in international football. "Many people were asking last year or so, 'when is Sunil going to retire?' [If Chhetri hangs up his boots] what are we going to do then? By far, in every training, he is our best player," he said.
India now play Afghanistan in their last game of Group E at the same venue on June 15. Stimac revealed what his message for his wards was heading into the Doha qualifiers. “Even if we didn't get a single point here out of three games, all I asked from my boys to do well and represent the country disciplined, together as a team. If we were going to lose a game, we would lose it as a team because we didn't have any time whatsoever to do things better. But I'm very proud of my boys. They worked their socks off, they are learning and I think we have a great future,” he said.