Stimac: This was our invitation to Indian fans for the next match
The Indian national football team held Asian champions, Qatar, to a goalless draw in their second Group E encounter of the joint second round FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifiers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday. Despite missing star striker Sunil Chhetri in the match, the team put on a brilliant collective show against their illustrious opponents to notch up a memorable result. India's captain for the night, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, was sensational, keeping out waves after waves of attacks from the Qatari side.
At the post-match press conference, the delighted Indian head coach Igor Stimac expressed his satisfaction at the relentless work of his boys. He said, "I’m more than happy to take one point away to the Asian Champions. Congratulations to not only my players but Qatar players also."
"Of course, Qatar deserved more from the game. They created more chances. They had more corners. But we also had chances. That will bring experience. When we become more experienced, we will score from those chances. All credit goes to my players. I’m very proud of them. I’m very proud as a coach. I want to send them a message. Just keep (your heads) down, its only one point. If we don’t win games against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, this point won’t matter much," he added.
The Croat then went on to praise the focus of his players against a supremely strong team like Qatar and said, "Today, we proved to everyone that we are a very good team. We played against Qatar who are in a different league to anybody (in our group). We defended with such concentration."
Sharing his thoughts on the visibly improved mentality of his players, the 52-year-old stated, "It was very important for my players because most of all, I was working on the mindset in the last couple of months. It’s all about mindset. If you put it right, you can achieve great things."
"Everybody can get fit, everyone can get educated about attacking football if they work hard. But to have the right mindset to become a winner, that is not something everyone can do. My players are on the right path. That’s what makes me most proud. We have a great future. We don’t mind working hard," he further explained.
Lastly, Stimac issued a rallying cry to the Indian fans and hoped for their wholehearted involvement in the next home fixture against Bangladesh on October 15. He said, "This was our proud invitation to the Indian people for our next match. I want to see 80,000 people in Kolkata against Bangladesh. They need to be out there. We deserve that and we are expecting all of them to come and help us get three points and become more strong."
Read the full match report here.