"The draw is realistic tonight" - Igor Stimac after India's crestfallen stalemate against Kuwait | FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Sunil Chhetri played his final match for India on June 6.
Sunil Chhetri played his final match for India on June 6. (Pic: AIFF Media)

India played out a 0-0 draw with Kuwait in a crucial FIFA World Cup Qualifier clash at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday, June 6. However, India head coach Igor Stimac feels his side's shoddy performance in the goalless stalemate was a "realistic" result.

During the post-match press conference, the Croatian tactician underlined that lack of quality in passing ultimately hampered India's chances in the game.

"Disappointed with the end result. The game was tough, as we expected, as any other game against Kuwait. The draw is realistic tonight. They open the game much better, with much more confidence. More confidence in passing - in speed of passing and moving. It took us some time to gear up, to start passing the ball and moving into areas where we could create danger. I will say that the general passing speed was the biggest problem we had tonight," he said.
"That was not good enough to break down a team like Kuwait. Even in situations where we put pressure on them with continuous attacks, there was no quality in the delivery to help the moment," Stimac added.

Meanwhile, Stimac also alleged that Kuwait had resorted to a time-wasting ploy to break India's momentum but maintained that it wasn't the reason behind the underwhelming result.

"I think they wasted at least 17-18 minutes with time-wasting and medical help, which resulted as seven minutes in the end. But this is not the reason we didn't win the game," he stated.

Passing, as mentioned was a pivotal factor. But what else led to the underwhelming result against the Blue Wave? Stimac stressed:

"We were not clinical in front of the goal in the situation we had and on the other hand, our best player tonight was Gurpreet [Singh Sandhu], which is not a good sign. It's a good sign for him and is fantastic for everyone on the team to have such a goalkeeper."

"I feel really sad for Sunil" - Igor Stimac on failing to come away with a victory in Chhetri's farewell game

Sunil Chhetri's farewell match was slated to be a gala, a celebration. But it was an anti-climatic affair. Compact defensive shape from Kuwait and some hastiness from the Blue Tigers in the final third led to a dull stalemate.

Quizzed regarding the inability of the hosts to live up to the expectations on a grand occasion, Stimac had a straightforward reply.

"I feel really sad for Sunil, really sad that he didn't go out with a win. But we don’t have the time to feel sorry for ourselves as we are still alive [in the Qualifiers],” he said.

Well, mathematically, India still have a shot at glory, but the chances are slim. Stimac doesn't deny that. But he's eyeing an unprecedented victory against Qatar, with the Asian champions opting for a second-string side.

“I need to do everything in the next five days to make the boys believe and to make them create the atmosphere an environment of belief, which can take us into a challenge, which is there ahead of us, playing against the Asian champions. But it’s a very different team, which gives us hope," he explained.

But with the string of disappointing results enlarging, hope among supporters is waning by the minute.

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