Stimac wants midfielders to translate 2020-21 Hero ISL form to international level

The Blue Tigers are ready to face Oman and the United Arab Emirates later this month in Dubai and national coach Igor Stimac has shown his admiration for the midfielders in the team and expects them to deliver in those international friendlies on March 25 and March 29.

The 27-member team boasts the following midfielders and they all had a terrific season in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21: Rowllin Borges (Mumbai City FC), Lalengmawia (NorthEast United FC, Jeakson Singh (Kerala Blasters FC), Raynier Fernandes (Mumbai City FC), Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin FC), Bipin Singh (Mumbai City FC), Mohammed Yasir (Hyderabad FC), Suresh Wangjam (Bengaluru FC), Halicharan Narzary (Hyderabad FC), Lallianzuala Chhangte (Chennaiyin FC), Ashique Kuruniyan (Bengaluru FC) and Hitesh Sharma (Hyderabad FC). 

When we talk about the structure, it should be in a way that your back-four is quite experienced. Not too much, not over-experienced but they need to stabilise the defensive positions. The midfield players, they need to have aggression, speed, charisma and I think our players have improved a lot in this segment.

“We have six to seven youngsters there who can fight, chase and pass the ball, which is very important. This was proved in the Hero ISL, and now they need to prove it at international level. I will give them the chance to do so.

“What we do here is we are trying to keep them relaxed and explain to them that there is no reason for fear at international level. They need to be themselves and prove to the world that they can play against the best,” Stimac said in an interview to the AIFF recently.

The 53-year-old Croatian is also happy with the path that Indian football has taken in recent years particularly at youth level but wants the work done at grassroots level highlighted more and more. “Our viewers and the people who are following Indian football can see what they are provided to see. They can see the Hero ISL. They can see the national team playing on TV, but they cannot see the things happening behind the scenes.

“They cannot see what we are doing with the grassroots program, with baby leagues, with new development programs, how much work has been done there. This work will be seen very soon, it's seen already with the youngsters coming through Indian Arrows. Last season, we sent my assistants to help Indian Arrows,” he said.

He went on: “Venky (Shanmugam Venkatesh) is in charge there. He was my first assistant. Some of the players joined the Hero ISL clubs. They were recognized as very talented and ready to play in the Hero ISL. And all credit to them, to everyone involved there. We are going to keep working in that manner. We are not going to be selfish because we are thinking globally. Everyone in our football family is important, but there is not much time.”


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