We need to work on few defensive issues ahead of Asian Cup qualifiers: India head coach Igor Stimac

AIFF Media

Indian men's national football team head coach Igor Stimac stressed on the need to making amends in their defence as they suffered a 0-2 defeat against Jordan in an international friendly on Saturday. It was the Blue Tigers’ last match ahead of the AFC Asian qualifiers 2023, which kicks-off on June 8.

Despite being on the backfoot, Sunil Chhetri and Co. were unhurt till the last quarter of the game. A defensive lapse from Sandesh Jhingan allowed Jordan to draw first blood in the 76th minute, before they doubled the lead in stoppage time to put the contest to rest.

“The boys were good throughout most of the game, and I feel sorry that we couldn’t score first. That would have definitely helped. There are some issues at the defending front which we faced, and need to be changed,” said Igor Stimac after the Jordan game, as reported by the-aiff.com.

India is yet to win a match after the victory over Nepal in the final of the SAFF Championships 2021. They have played three matches in the build-up to the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers - against Bahrain, Belarus and Jordan, having lost each one of them.

For now, the team will head back to Kolkata, for the last lap of preparations before the qualifiers. The Croat manager, who left players like Liston Colaco, Udanta Singh and Rahul Bheke out of the squad for the Jordan friendly, is likely to bring them back ahead of the all-important matches.

“We proceed back to Kolkata from Doha as per our schedule, where we would be training for a week prior to playing our first match in the Qualifiers. We intend to put in our final touches upon the restart of our training sessions, and will be working to bring back Liston, Udanta, and Bheke back to the squad,” added the manager.

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India have been pitted in Group D of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, alongside Cambodia, Afghanistan and Hong Kong. The Blue Tigers will begin their campaign against Cambodia on June 8, followed by the match against Afghanistan, two days later. Igor Stimac’s men will be up against Hong Kong, in their last match on June 14.

All the matches of Group D will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium, in Kolkata. The winner of the group will get a direct entry to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, to be held in China. Meanwhile, five 2nd best-placed teams across all groups will also qualify for the main event.

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