SAFF Championship 2021-22: Igor Stimac puts emphasis on man-marking, defensive abilities 

The Indian football team with coach Igor Stimac during a training session. (PC: AIFF)
The Indian football team with coach Igor Stimac during a training session. (PC: AIFF)

Igor Stimac, the head coach of the Indian men's football team, is keen to look forward and leave the past behind. The Indian men's football team is gearing up to give their best against Sri Lanka when the teams lock horns in the SAFF Championship on Thursday.

The Indian men's football team were jolted by a 10-men Bangladesh in a 1-1 draw, but the Indian team and coach Igor Stimac know that fortunes in international matches fluctuate fast.

Igor Stimac, addressing the media at the pre-match press conference, said winning the next three matches are of prime importance. He said:

“We need to look forward. There are three matches left in the group stage. We were punished in the last match, and we need to improve. It’s about patience, it’s about attitude, and it’s about the approach.”

Sri Lanka, like India, haven't had the best of starts and are pointless in the Championship so far having lost to both Bangladesh and Nepal.

Read: Igor Stimac rues missed chances in India's stalemate against Bangladesh

Igor Stimac hinted that he may bring in some changes in the starting XI after having a final look at the condition of the players.

“We still have 24 hours to go. We will have a clear picture of the players in the evening after we finish the training session. At that time, we will get to know how the players are feeling, how much the legs are loaded."
On the way to the Official Press Conference 🎙️ duties 🙌#SAFFChampionship2021 🏆 #BackTheBlue 💙 #BlueTigers 🐯 #IndianFootball

Igor Stimac has made no displeasure about the final result against Bangladesh. He said:

“We analyzed our game against Bangladesh and we are not happy with the final result. We are two points less from what we have to have in our kitty. We need to do everything possible to win against Sri Lanka. We respect Sri Lanka as a team. I feel they could have had two points from the two games they played. But they don’t have any, and that’s football."

Igor Stimac hints at change in strategy

The Indian football team players had a morning stroll and an exercise session on the beach, while a practice session was slated for the afternoon.

Also read: SAFF Championship 2021: India vs Sri Lanka preview, prediction, line-ups and more

Igor Stimac said the Indian football team needs to be better in their defense and make sure they don't concede goals. He said:

"We need to be better defensively. If we can’t score the second goal, we need to make sure that we don’t concede the second goal. Man marking is extremely necessary when you play serious football, and we just cannot keep giving the balls away."
Chose the 'wake up and keep it out' routine.

Igor Stimac threw light on the physical play by Sri Lanka, which has been a talking point in the SAFF Championship. He said:

"They play whatever they can to stop the opponent from approaching the final third. That’s allowed in football. In fact, all the teams here have the ability to fight. They are not giving up and that’s what Sri Lanka have been doing well – fighting till the final whistle. We need to find a way to get past them, and we can do it by quick passing, with a lot of movement, moving into the final third. We will have our chances and we need to be clever and be patient against them.”

Also read: ISL 2021-22: Vladimir Koman open to playing any role in Chennaiyin FC

Edited by Rohit Mishra

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