Intercontinental Cup 2019: 'We need to be scared of teams from Pot 1 as well as Pot 5,' says Igor Stimac
Playing for pride, India squashed Syria's chances of making it through to the finals of the Intercontinental Cup after Igor Stimac's side held them 1-1. The Blue Tigers took the lead courtesy of Narender Gehlot's header in the 51st minute but the West Asian nation spoiled the party in the 79th minute to level things up from the spot.
Head coach Igor Stimac believes that every player played some sort of role in that goal and was happy that Narender delivered the final blow.
"Each goal from whoever scores comes as a team effort. I am so happy for him because the first game was not too good. We were not too happy about that. But, for a boy like him who has such quality in his legs, I want him to play as confident as today. I want him to go up, to score goals, to show up to the Indian people, we have young quality players who are the future of the country. And, we need to congratulate all the players for their efforts. Today's game was really fantastic and we can be proud of that."
When asked if India should be scared of any particular team from Pot 1 in the World Cup Qualifiers, Igor Stimac opined that every team should be respected and feared equally, including the team from Pot 5 whom many see as pushovers.
"We need to be scared of everyone. We need to respect everyone. Not only the teams from that pot but also the team from the fifth pot. This tournament shows you that football is a very strange game. In the final, two teams will play here which had the lowest FIFA ranking. So, that is telling you that anyone can beat everyone. We shouldn't fear anyone (in particular). We respect everyone. We are just at the beginning of our journey. I hope this journey will be a very long one. But, that's how I am going to teach them. Respect everyone. But, when we come to the pitch, we will try to win."
Igor Stimac will not see his players until 18th August when the next camp for the World Cup Qualifiers will begin. The Croat expects the players to give their best in the pre-season so that they can cement themselves as a regular for their respective clubs. Stimac will also give a detailed report of the progress of his players to the respective club managers so that they have a better understanding of their players.
"Now is the second phase of our work. They will start pre-season with the clubs. They need to make sure they play in their respective clubs. After this tournament, my job is to get in touch with all the managers of the respective clubs. To show appreciation to them, I will send them all the details about their work. I will give my opinion. I will not get into what they are planning to do in the pre-season. But then, I need to follow them how they play for their clubs."
Many fans and even a few AIFF officials criticized Igor Stimac for his side's loss in the opening two matches of the Intercontinental Cup. While the gaffer maintained he accepts positive criticism, he believes things can be sorted out by discussion and working on them.
"When you lose one game, lose two games, then all those people who are always suspicious about everything then they come out and they start talking. I accept every criticism if it has a proper basis, if it's got good basement, and if it's realistic. Every positive criticism is welcomed in our room. We look at every thing, discuss, and that's the only way to get better."
Having taken the charge in India's five international matches, one can say that Igor Stimac has got enough time to know the weaknesses and strengths of his team. The experimentation time is up. Now, is the time to go for results.