Following the defeat against Bahrain two days back in an international friendly, head coach Igor Stimac urged his players to buckle up and “take risks” when the Blue Tigers face off against Belarus on Saturday at 9:30 pm IST.

“There will be some big changes for the Belarus game. I want to introduce a new team with fresh faces and energy which will give us more stability in the passing front,” the Head Coach averred. “Friendly games are the best opportunity to give players the chance to perform, and I believe if you don’t take risks, you will never succeed,” he added.

“Belarus are a very well-known opposition to me. They are much more technical than Bahrain. They have recently played against higher ranking teams such as Belgium and Wales. They play much more defensive and counter attacking football. But I don’t see them being that much defensive against us,” Stimac highlighted.

“International football is more demanding especially when we are playing higher ranked teams. There is a huge difference in the energy levels. I understand the players are mentally exhausted from staying in a bio bubble for long. But I want my players to get used to such energy levels of playing in international football,” Stimac stated.

On introspecting the last game against Bahrain, he said: “As like many other games, there are some positive and some negative points. The attitude of the team was good, but they need to understand to react more once they lose a ball. I am happy about some individual performances like of Roshan and Rahim Ali who did a tremendous work,” he expressed.

Roshan Singh, who made his international debut last match alongside four other debutants, said, “It is always a proud moment to represent the country and I along with my family are proud of my debut.”

“The experience of playing international football is totally different. I am trying to learn new things, and understand the level of the competition with the support of the coach and other players,” the defender stated.

“Coach has given me a lot of motivation and support and has asked me to enjoy the game and give my best on the pitch”.

Asking about his assist to Rahul Bheke, Roshan said: “I have worked really hard in crossing, and I am happy to give my first assist in my debut game.”

Head Coach Stimac also praised Roshan for his performance. “Roshan brought in a fresh energy to the game. He was creative on the pitch with his quick passing, and crossing. But in the Belarus match, he needs to put much more effort as they have analysed him from the last game.”

The international friendlies are a part of the team’s preparation for the final round of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifying matches which will be held in Kolkata from June 8 onwards. India have been clubbed in Group D along with Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia. 24 teams have been divided into six groups and the group winners, and the five best 2nd placed teams will earn a ticket to the Asian Cup in China.