Result was not my priority today: Igor Stimac
Igor Stimac also boldly stated that the AFC Asian Cup is not of importance to the team.
India’s fine run of form at home was brought to a heartbreaking end by the defending Asian champions Qatar in Bhubaneswar. The 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts came into the game as clear favourites and lived up to the hype with a dominant display.
Qatar handed India a disheartening 0-3 defeat in the second game of their 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers. After the game, India’s head coach Igor Stimac addressed the media. Excerpts from the conversation are below:
Thoughts on the game
The head coach shared his thoughts on the game and said that it is really tough to play against Qatar. However, he also appreciated his players’ efforts.
“The game was what it was. Qatar were the better team. The physicality and the basic skill, the passing quality, final-third execution, it’s all there. They like to get behind you and put good crosses. It’s really difficult to play against them but I appreciate our boys’ commitment.
He also added that it is a part of the learning process and it was a good lesson for the team.
“And that’s something which we need to take out from today’s game. Very positive thing – when you go down early in the game against Qatar, you need to fear a heavy defeat. That’s part of the learning process. And it’s a good lesson for us today – against a team like this, you cannot give away anything. Maybe we had too much respect for them,” he asserted.
Igor Stimac also shared his views on what his priority was in today’s game. He said that the result was not his priority, but answers to some questions were.
“The result was not my priority today. There were some questions which were haunting me for some time. And as you already know, when we’re not having any more games prior to the game against Australia, I have all my answers and due to this huge remount of this game, I have a clearer picture and clarity of what needs to be done and who are the players who can go there,” he said.
2024 AFC Asian Cup
Stimac mentioned that the national team will not get enough time for the 2024 AFC Asian Cup preparations and therefore he is giving more importance to the FIFA World Cup qualifiers than the continental showdown.
“Knowing that we’re not gonna get enough time for the Asian Cup, I don’t consider the Asian Cup such an important element for us. And I don’t want my players to get injured.”
He also added that he will make sure that his side gets enough points to qualify for the next round of the World Cup qualifiers because it will be very beneficial for Indian football.
“I need to make sure that we get enough points in our group for the World Cup qualifiers. So we make sure that we have another five to six home games in the third round here. And that will be a huge benefit for Indian football for the future. I was very clear that if you’ll give me time, I might show results, but without the time, don’t ask about results. I will go there with pride to represent India with our boys, but 12-13 days are nothing to prepare for the Asian Cup,” he quipped.
Changes in the team
Speaking about the changes in the team, Igor Stimac said, “Many of you were surprised to see Amrinder (Singh) instead of Gurpeet (Singh Sandhu) who had two fantastic games against Qatar. He’s our first choice goalkeeper. We don’t have any doubt about that. But you know why he’s our first choice? Because Amrinder is always pushing him.”
He also said that Sahal Abdul Samad and Naorem Mahesh Singh needed rest because they have played all the games for both club and country since May.
“Sahal and Mahesh were on the bench today and the reason was simple – they have played all the games since May for both the country and the club. We are trying to make different game plans for them where they’re going to make an impact from the bench,” he concluded.
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