Intercontinental Cup 2019: 'I need to look at India's score for the future and not now'- Igor Stimac
Igor Stimac's wait to find the first home victory in home soil continues as India got thrashed 5-2 by DPR Korea in the Intercontinental Cup. The Blue Tigers were no match in the first half but came out totally different after the half-time whistle.
India's head coach was proud of the valiant display the boys displayed in the second half despite being 3-0 down in the first forty-five minutes.
"In the second half when we came out, we came out with our heads up, with courage, with confidence, when we decided to play football, instead of the first 45 minutes when we were lost. We played without any courage, without any self-confidence, which I couldn't understand because I gave these players the chance to represent India.
"I told them to enjoy football. But, if you don't have enough courage in football, to show up, and fight, you cannot do it well and that is what happened to us. And then, the second half was a totally opposite story and that's what I’m proud of that. Because when you go 3-0 down, it is very difficult to get up."
Igor Stimac retained only two players that started against Tajikistan in the Intercontinental Cup opening fixture. While it failed to bring out a change of fortunes, the Croatian believes that he now knows which player he can put his trust and on which player, he cannot.
"You know that we had many problems with our defenders. We are missing 6-7 very important players here in this squad. It was difficult to work like that but now everything is very clear to me - who we can count on and who we can’t. Every player has got the chance and not a single player can say that I haven’t seen him, I deserve this, and I deserve that. Everything is very clear."
Igor Stimac trying out various players in different positions hasn't yielded the best of results for the Indian football team. However, the Croatian reminded everyone that he cannot look at scoreline now as he is building the team for the future.
"We use these games as friendly games so we can find out everything about all candidates and choose the team for the (World Cup) Qualifiers. That's all. I can’t look at the score now. I need to look at India's score for the future and not now."
India's matter went from bad to worse in the first half when Sandesh Jhingan had to be stretchered off. The Kerala Blasters captain felt that he could play for the team but things were not meant to be that way.
"I feel sorry for Sandesh (Jhingan). He wanted to play. He was quite sure he feels good, he is 100% fit. I saved him for the first game because I have experience with those injuries. But, his heart was bigger than his health. And, we made a mistake with him now. We might lose him for 4-5 weeks again. This was not a good decision and I take responsibility for this."
The gaffer also iterated the need of players like Ashique Kuruniyan and Jeje Lalpekhlua who are out due to injury in the World Cup Qualifiers. So far, the brunt of scoring goals falls on Sunil Chhetri's shoulders and these two players' induction to the Indian team would help relieve that pressure.
"We missed Ashique (Kuruniyan) a lot. We need speed on both sides. When is he going to come back? I hope before the (World Cup) Qualifiers start. Some other players like Jeje (Lalpekhlua) is important. He is giving us options in attack. You cannot be dependent on two or three players. You cannot expect Sunil (Chhetri) in every game and again and again and again Sunil will perform. We need more players."
India's chance of reaching the finals of the Intercontinental Cup look slim as they not only have to beat Syria by a margin of three or more goals but also hope Tajikistan beat DPR Korea by at least two goals.
"When you talk about the final, it’s not realistic. We should beat Syria. DPR Korea should lose against Tajikistan. There is a mathematical possibility. In situations like this, I would be happy if we don't finish the game with more injuries. I need to think about that more."