Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019: 3 areas Stimac needs to fix before the World Cup qualifiers
Igor Stimac had an intense training setup based in Delhi before the commencement of the Kings Cup during the first week of June in Thailand. Since the Croat is going through the experimentation process, as high as 37 players were called up for the camp, but the squad was trimmed to 23 players for the tournament.
The Blues took on Curacao in the first game, but the opponents were utterly dominant from minute one. The Caribbean Island had a star-filled side with many players plying their trade in the top European divisions. Since Curacao had the breakneck pace to exploit the Indian defence, the whole team succumbed. Sunil Chhetri scored the only penalty in the 3-1 defeat during the first game in Thailand.
While facing the hosts in the second game, Igor Stimac's side stood up to the task defensively. Anirudh Thapa scored the only goal in the game during the first half, but India proved their resilience by keeping their defensive shape intact. There were many instances of extending the lead, but the forwards failed to convert the chances.
With many takeaways from those two games, Igor Stimac is working on a particular blueprint to make India as an Asian force soon. He is also hoping to get the calculations right for the World Cup Qualifiers which kicks off in September.
Similarly to the preparations of the Kings Cup, the Indian gaffer has cut down his side to 25 after naming 35 for the training camp.
After a decent initiation to Stimac's Indian career, he will take his side to Ahmedabad to play Tajikistan, Syria, and North Korea in the Intercontinental Cup. The four-side tournament will be held in TransStadia between July 7 and 19.
We shall look at the three areas which require improvement in the Intercontinental Cup as the World Cup Qualifiers looms.
Decision making is a crucial aspect for any defender. Indian Centre-backs are mostly 'react' than 'read' defenders - making it life difficult for the other backline colleagues to do the spare work at times. Sandesh Jhingan has a good pace to compete with top-notch strikers and has a good physique to shut down the opponents, but he needs to work on his decision making than anything else.
The Kerala Blasters defender was poor in both the game against Curacao and Thailand. Rahul Bheke showed early jittery against Thailand through his primary position, but he had a decent outing - playing as a centre-back against Curacao when Jhingan was all over the place.
The squad was announced by Igor Stimac for the Intercontinental Cup on Friday. Anas Edathodika has also announced his wish to carry on with his national team, albeit confirming his retirement months ago. He will partner up with his former Kerala Blasters teammate Sandesh Jhingan in the backline.
Adil Khan looked rock solid against Thailand, retains his place in the squad. The young Narender Gahlot has been slotted in the squad and he might get game time. The Indian boss will have his fixed eye on this position during this tournament.