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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Gurpreet will start the match: Igor Stimac on team news ahead of Kuwait clash

Published at :June 5, 2024 at 7:55 PM
Modified at :June 5, 2024 at 7:55 PM
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Manav Chowdhury

Sunil Chhetri also shared their views on the team strategy against Kuwait.

India will take on against Kuwait in their upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifier match on 6th June in the Salt Lake Stadium. This match will be the fifth match of the Round 2 qualifiers as India played four matches earlier and are currently placed second in the points table.

The Blue Tigers‘ last two matches were very disappointing as they were not able to get good results against Afghanistan and this upcoming match is extremely important for them since they aim to qualify for the third round for the first time. Also, this will be the last international match of the Indian team captain Sunil Chhetri. Head Coach Igor Stimac and captain Sunil Chhetri addressed the media ahead of the game on Thursday.

Igor Stimac’s thoughts about the Game

After seeing many people in the media room, the Indian coach was delighted. Igor Stimac with a smile on his face started the press interaction.

“Thank you for coming here in numbers now after knowing that this is the last game of our captain this makes the occasion much much bigger but I would like to focus on what we need to do because surely we will celebrate after the game and this is about India winning the game against Kuwait, but yes we are ready for it,” said Igor Stimac.

Sunil Chhetri on preparations for the game

Sunil Chhetri was overwhelmed by the number of reporters in the room and he replied to their questions well.

“I think most of us met already a few days back and we spoke about my last game and that’s done we have been here for the last few days, thankfully all of us are on the same page in terms of fitness and I think we all are ready and it’s a good headache for the coach to have,” Chhetri stated.

Changes Igor Stimac brought

“We did play several games against Kuwait and all the games were very tough tight results either team could have won the game. I would say that our best game against them was in Kuwait where we were in shape and not allowing Kuwait any clear chances that is something that we need to repeat with discipline focus and tight marking to reach the opposition box and score the goal so the only difference is that we didn’t have any friendly games in our preparations, but the boys work tremendously hard on details on everything else and we will be ready for every scenario,” Igor Stimac said.

Emotional Moment for Sunil in the last match?

Chhetri could not hold his emotions when asked about the last match. “I am trying hard to not think about this game like that, I again request it is just not about my last game it is us against Kuwait, please don’t ask me, again and again, how are you feeling?

“Because I don’t want to address it, we need to win this game. Once we win this game it gives us a great opportunity to go into the third round. This is not going to be easy so it is going to be a battle,” Captain Fantastic exclaimed.

Plans if India qualifies for the third round

When asked if Sunil will feature himself if India qualifies for the next round, the veteran striker put waters to that possibility.

Sunil said, “We win tomorrow and if we qualify for the third round we will face top teams home and away and I will wear suites so that’s my plan where ever the team travels I will go and watch the game that’s the only plan but that’s only after this match and every day I keep telling the boys and hopefully everything goes according to the plan.”

Preparations like last year

Stimac said, “We will be in front of the packed stadium and I request everyone to be patient and to get behind the boys until the final whistle and not to show any frustration and to keep supporting us for this historical win. We need you all and our 12th player will be you guys play with us and be with us throughout the 90 minutes and it will pay us back believe me.”

Chhetri said “I prefer longer camps because you have longer time with the boys and it gives you a little bit more time to work. You get multiple days to work on everything on setpieces and it is about small details and it gives you more confidence and I hope that these three camps also give us the same result.”

Kuwait’s threat and Chhetri on reconsidering his decision

Chhetri, when asked if India wins, will reconsider his decision replied “No sir I am not someone who will change it I might look like that I will change my decision but I have played 19 years so when we win tomorrow I will go with the team where ever they play and support them.

“It’s not about height, they have great individual quality and we need to take care of these players who are there to make a difference with their quality. We are without Sandesh so you know, they impressed me with their last performance against Qatar they raised their game to a certain standard which worries me a bit but we have self-belief and I am in peace, absolute peace,” the Indian skipper added.

The mentality about the game

When Stimac was asked about the mentality for the upcoming crucial game he said “From the start, I have said to my players it’s only a game of football so what is the purpose if we are not enjoying it, but whatever job is there you need to enjoy it, we are going to enjoy out there we will give out best,” Igor Stimac explained.

Balancing emotions in the dressing room

“We need to work on our mindset and we need to be disciplined and need to make out emotions on such occasions emotions need to be controlled emotions are for the fans, and we need to focus each second on the game,” said Sunil

Sunil added, “We don’t talk about this in the dressing room everything is the same and we are having fun and it’s just you guys who are asking.”

Qualities in new young boys

Igor Stimac said, “The boys have adapted to the squad very well and they have adapted in a very very good way and they became very essential part of the squad and they are competing for their minutes and I will take out the best that India have not the last month and I told the boys whoever is on the bench didn’t have impact who came from the bench and that was terrifying for me as a coach and sometimes the players from the bench play more crucial role than player who is in the starting lineup.

“But as a coach, I will make the decisions.” Sunil said, all these boys are different and whenever the coach needs they can play the role, so that gives a lot of variety to the coach to select from,” he added.

Importance of the game

Stimac said, “Even though I am a foreigner I feel more like an Indian now and I don’t want to have emotions in my job but now I will tell you honestly this is the biggest game in my playing career and in my coaching career when you have the chance to make one person happy and you do that then you are a happy man we have the chance the make billions of people happy tomorrow and we need to do everything to do to achieve that.”

Changes of players in the squad

“It is not possible to have the same lineup because injuries are happening in the squad and whoever is not with us it is not the time to think about them we need to think about us who are here available and are ready for what is ahead of us.”

Starting Vishal in the lineup

When asked about whether there is a possibility to start Vishal Kaith in goal, the Croatian replied with a simple answer.

“It’s a simple question and I will give you a simple answer, Gurpreet will start the match he is my number one choice and what matters in this match is experience and he has that yes he didn’t have a good season but still I will not make any radical changes to the lineup,” Igor Stimac concluded.

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