We have enough quality to win the tournament in Vietnam: India head coach Igor Stimac

Image Courtesy: AIFF Media

 

Indian men’s football team head coach Igor Stimac is upbeat about his team’s chances in the upcoming friendly tournament in Vietnam where they take on the hosts and Singapore.

The Blue Tigers go into the tournament on the back of a successful AFC Asian Cup qualification in June where they beat Cambodia, Afghanistan and Hong Kong to make the cut to the continental showpiece.

Having gained confidence from those wins and also from the manner of those victories, Stimac believes his side can match the likes of Vietnam who are ranked above India in the FIFA rankings.

“We are definitely capable of winning the tournament, but I think it’s the small things that will decide who wins it,” said India head coach Igor Stimac.

“Obviously, Vietnam have a lot of momentum with their performances in the last couple of years. They have a good team and are playing at home, which is why they are probably the favourites, but we also have a good chance as we have a young squad.

“I think we have enough quality to match them, and if we stay positive and play with a good mindset, we can do it,” he continued.

Most Indian players have been training with their respective clubs in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) as they gear up for the upcoming campaign and Stimac is wary of their fitness levels. However, he believes the players are in a great frame of mind to compete well in Vietnam.

“With regards to the momentum that we have after the June AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers (India beat Cambodia, Afghanistan and Hong Kong in back-to-back matches), the optimism is high and the positiveness which currently surrounds the team should only bode well for us,” Stimac said.

The Croatian is also hopeful about the talent at his disposal with a large number of players in his squad being under the age of 25. With more youngsters emerging every Hero ISL season, Stimac has reasons to be optimistic about his team’s future.

“I am very happy that over the last three and a half years, we have fulfilled the goals that were there in front of us. And with I’m sure we made everyone happy with the qualifiers in June with our style of play and the mindset that we showed in the game,” he said.

“The confidence with which they played, especially the youth, gives us a lot of hope. Most of our boys are around 22 years old right now. In a few years, they will be 25 years old, with a vast array of International experience, and that will only help India further,” he added.

Stimac had to cut down from his initial list of 40 probables as he has named a 23-man squad for the upcoming tournament. But the Croatian believes he looks at those 40 players as his talent pool for the future and considers players who couldn’t make the cut to the final squad as an integral part of his squad.

Here is the final 23-man squad for the friendly tournament in Vietnam:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem and Amrinder Singh.

Defenders: Sandesh Jhingan, Roshan Singh Naorem, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Harmanjot Singh Khabra and Narender.

Midfielders: Liston Colaco, Muhammed Ashique Kuruniyan, Vikram Partap Singh, Udanta Singh Kumam, Anirudh Thapa, Brandon Fernandes, Yasir Mohammad, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Sahal Abdul Samad, Rahul Kannoly Praveen and Lallianzuala Chhangte.

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri and Ishan Pandita.

Fixtures:

September 24: Singapore vs India, 5.30 PM IST.

September 27: Vietnam vs India, 5.30 PM IST.

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