The former Bengaluru FC manager appeared in the latest episode of Khel Now’s Beyond The Scores podcast.
The Indian football team, after finishing third in round two of the joint FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers, has been attracting mixed reactions. Despite achieving what was expected of them, the Blue Tigers’ inability to register wins has invited serious concerns. Carles Cuadrat, appearing on Khel Now’s Beyond The Scores podcast, echoed a similar concern.
“I have been watching the games that they were playing in the last few days. I love Indian football and I’m really worried about the decisions that we are taking us as a footballing nation,” he said.
What worries Cuadrat?
Carles Cuadrat dedicated a major portion to discussing the major reasons behind the Blue Tigers’ recent run.
“If you see the results, it shows that we are not winning enough games. So, I think that we have lost too much time trying to know the players and trying to find a system that we want to play,” said Cuadrat.
“If you see the way the team is playing and the results that you are getting, it looks like we’ve lost two very important years,” added Carles Cuadrat.
Referring to the World Cup Qualifiers, the tactician said that it was important to “honour the flag and make pragmatic and right decisions for the future.”
Thoughts on Igor Stimac’s appointment
Carles Cuadrat openly addressed his perspective on Igor Stimac’s struggles with the national team. He re-iterated the importance of the head coach’s eye on youth development and familiarity with domestic football.
“I think that we have to have a very clear vision on what we can get now from our players. For me, to sign a foreign coach that doesn’t know enough about the local football looks really strange,” he reflected. “If you see the way the team is playing and the results that you are getting, it looks like we’ve lost two very important years.”
However, Carles Cuadrat also touched on the mindset and intent behind appointing foreign coaches. The football network and innovation that international coaches bring are two major factors behind appointments like these, according to him.
“The Indian Super League is growing up very fast and is producing better players. Those players need to adopt a world-class system, as well as seek for international opportunities,” he added.
“For me, it makes sense to go for a foreign name, but not the one with no experience in the country. I think that the national team coach has to know what’s going on in the country. It can be foreign coaches that already have been working for 3-5 years in the country. It can also be Indian coaches, why not? The ones who already are working in some ISL clubs and have international experience as players, like Khalid, Moosa or others,” he recalled his stance.
What are the real on-field problems?
Carles Cuadrat expressed his view on India’s second round of fixtures and also pinpointed the deficiencies.
“You have to understand that football is growing up very fast in a lot of countries. There are more very professional coaches all over the world, making good plans, in any country around. But, if you see, it’s easier now in football to build up a good defensive system when you are the one that’s defending. That’s the reason because India had quite decent games against Qatar,” he explained.
Watch: Former Bengaluru FC head coach Carles Cuadrat on Khel Now’s ‘Beyond The Scores’ podcast
Carles Cuadrat, based on his observations from the Bangladesh game, presented a bigger picture of India’s struggle. He highlighted the Blue Tigers’ lack of flair in attack and the goal drought that was seen throughout the qualifiers.
“When you are the one who is going to have the ball and attack against those kinds of sides, it’s difficult. We saw that in the group stage, India was only able to win one game against Bangladesh. Again, it was not because of what you’re producing, it was just because of Sunil’s quality,” he explained.
“I mean you can get some things wrong. But, in the end, it had to be us with the ball, and to create enough chances and score. Its what it makes difficult when you are going to be the dominant team. What I mean is that the World Cup Qualifiers have been not good enough,” the former Barcelona assistant manager added.
Thoughts on if he’ll apply for the national team spot
In the worst case for Igor Stimac, the Indian national team will start searching for a new manager in September. If the Croat’s contract is not extended, he will leave India before the next set of fixtures.
When asked about his plans to apply for the Indian team’s top spot, Carles Cuadrat said that he had “no solid plans for the next step at present.”
“I am a free agent at the moment and I have been listening to some options to coach again,” the Spaniard said. “Until now, I have decided not to sign because I’m looking for a good project.”