Merdeka Tournament

Indian football team players return to clubs early

Atawaris WarsiAtawaris Warsi

October 14 2023

India’s international break cut short due to Palestine’s withdrawal from Merdeka Cup.

The Indian football team suffered a 4-2 loss at the hands of Malaysia in the opening match of the Merdeka Cup. The Blue Tigers appeared tamed and, at times, played sloppily against the Malaysians in the tournament’s semi-final. A genuine goal was disallowed in the 56th minute and that seemed to be the turning point in this fixture. Moreover, their practice prior to the game was also hampered as their bus broke down.

After the loss, India now were interested in completely utilising their international window but the logistics didn’t work out.

A source tracking the development informed Khel Now this afternoon, “One of the reasons for this decision is the withdrawal of Palestine from the Merdeka Cup, citing ongoing tensions with Israel. If Palestine would have played their game with Tajikistan, and a potential loser had emerged, India would have played that side in the third-place tie. However, after Palestine withdrew, Tajikistan will now face Malaysia on October 17 to determine the champions of the competition.”

“The schedule was to stay in Malaysia till October 17 and return after the third-place match or the final. But now the Indian team will have to return home. Also, players will rejoin training with their respective clubs,” the source added.

Igor Stimac said after the game, “In some situations, we were not putting the ball into the box in time. We were mostly waiting too long and the crosses were being blocked, or we took too long to take our shots. In football, once you get close to the box, you need to keep thinking about how you will score the goal. We need to improve our decision-making.”

*Story is updated with more facts*

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