The India head coach also criticised the refereeing decisions in the last game against Bangladesh.

The Indian national football team will be up against Afghanistan in their final 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup preliminary qualifier. The match will be played at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on 15 June 2021. Igor Stimac will hope that his men can continue their winning form after securing three points against Bangladesh in the last fixture. The Blue Tigers recorded their first victory in the group, thanks to Sunil Chhetri’s brace.

The tactician spoke to the media ahead of the game during the pre-match press conference. He spoke about the previous game and important talking points ahead of the final fixture. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also joined Stimac and answered a few questions too:

Happy with result against Bangladesh

Igor Stimac expressed his delight with the 2-0 victory over Bangladesh. He spoke in this regard, saying, “Obviously, we are happy with the result and the last game against Bangladesh gave us extra confidence and boost for our work, in preparation of the last game of the group. We are very happy as the three points against Bangladesh we secured not playing in the playoffs.”

Opinion on Afghanistan

The Croatian is not underestimating the threat posed by their next opponents in Afghanistan. “Now, there is a game in front of us against a much more difficult, better side than Bangladesh. Afghanistan is full of players with international experience. Most of their players are playing in the foreign leagues, which you can recognize on the pitch. We see our chance there, we need to go out on the pitch with confidence, to play good football and to make sure we finish this tournament in a winning way,” he further opined in this context.

Gurpreet Sandhu on upcoming opponents

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu Igor Stimac
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been in fine form

India’s No. 1 has been in a rich vein of form in the last couple of games. He talked about Afghanistan and what threats they could bring by saying, “As a player, I think its important for us to prepare, be fresh and face this new challenge against a very good side. As the coach mentioned, they have very good, quality players. We need to make sure we stick to the plan, go out there and make life difficult for the other team and try to finish with a smile.”

Motivational factors

Igor Stimac said that there was certainly no lack of motivation in the upcoming match. He said, “The players who are wearing the national colours have a great obligation to represent the country in the best possible way. Trying to do everything on the pitch well and get the win for their country. Whoever is wearing the Indian shirt, just has the chance to make 1.4 billion people happy, what else can you ask for? No need for other motivation. Especially, when people suffered so much in India. We are here with the chance to make them happy.”

Going for victory

Igor Stimac was crystal clear in expressing that the Blue Tigers will not play for a point, even though they simply need to avoid defeat to finish above Afghanistan. He said, “We are not going out to draw the game. We are going out to win it. Definitely, we are going to come out tomorrow to win the game, that’s what we are aiming to do.”

Disappointment with refereeing decisions

Igor Stimac concluded his interaction by expressing his dissatisfaction with the refereeing decisions in the previous match. He said, “I am sorry, but we suffered a lot against Bangladesh, the refereeing… was terrible. The No. 8 from Bangladesh nearly killed our best player on the pitch. He was not sent off. Not only for that one tackle, but after he got booked, the two tackles he made again he was not sent off. I know each referee is different, but when you take some approach to the game in the first minute of the game then you need to follow it.”

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