Intercontinental Cup 2019: 'We need more Indian strikers playing in the ISL and I-League' - Igor Stimac
India began their Intercontinental Cup title defense on a disappointing note as the Blue Tigers lost the match 2-4 despite being two goals ahead in the first half. Head coach Igor Stimac expected more from his side but believed India didn't deliver the killer blow and that cost them the game.
"I need to tell you, to be honest, I was a little worried about how good everything was looking for in the first forty-five minutes. Then, I said to them in the half time in the dressing room. Listen to me, this result is very dangerous. Do not lose your patience.
"Now is the time to kill the game. You need to keep playing the same way. Following the players, marking the players, following the runs from behind, being aggressive with the player on the ball and, waiting the chance for the third ball. Otherwise, you will get under pressure and we gonna face the problem because the Tajikistan team is in competition form and we are not. And, that was our main problem."
Stimac said that the main focus is on the World Cup Qualifiers, which will begin in September, and the Intercontinental Cup is being used by the team just as to give exposure to more players. One of the ways is to give more players their debut cap. And, Stimac was satisfied with the performance of Jobby Justin, Mandar Rao Desai, and Narender Gehlot but believed they had a long way to go.
"Jobby didn't play much so I cannot say anything more than I am happy how he works in the training pitch and as I said, everyone will get his chance, Jobby as well.
"Mandar was good. I feel sorry for him because we knew that he is having problem with a leg and we prepared the player from the bench to come for him before he made a mistake. So, sometimes things happen in different way that you want but that's football. Nothing will happen. Mandar is a great player. He can play very good football for Indian national team. He is giving us more options.
"We have him, we have Subhasish, we have Jerry on that position. Now, you know we are very good there. So, I am not worried about Mandar. He still needs to work a little bit more to come to his best condition.
"Narender is a very young boy. You could see that today our defense was suffering a lot because I didn't want to push Sandesh. He has a small injury and I don't want to lose Sandesh for the Qualifiers. As well, Anas is not still 100% fit to play competitive games and I need those guys for the Qualifiers.
With Adil, who was for the first 45 minutes fantastic, was playing like Bhekenbauer. He little bit fell down in the second 45 minutes. We will be okay in the defense.
One of the challenges coach Igor Stimac faced when he inherited the India side from his predecessor Stephen Constantine was the overdependence of Sunil Chhetri. The Bengaluru FC captain is in great form and, scored two goals against Tajikistan.
But, he can't be expected to deliver everytime and that can be solved only if more Indian strikers play in the ISL and I-League.
"We are suffering some problems with most of our strikers not playing regularly in ISL. They are on the bench, they don't have more open spaces to play which is not good for me because there is only Sunil (Chhetri) who is scoring goals. And, that's a big problem for us. We need to think of how to sort out the situation. We cannot expect Sunil always to deliver for the game.
"We need more Indian strikers playing in ISL and I-League, doing more than just scoring goals. I cannot create center forwards. I can make center back from the midfielder. But, from the full back, I cannot make center fowards. They need to play in the ISL and I-League."