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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

We will die on that pitch if needed, says Igor Stimac ahead of critical India-Qatar clash

Published at :June 10, 2024 at 11:48 PM
Modified at :June 10, 2024 at 11:53 PM
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Uttiyo Sarkar

The Blue Tigers head coach also mentioned the talent of the young players.

India face an uphill task to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup third-round qualifiers and have to defeat Qatar in their final second-round clash at Doha, Qatar on Tuesday (June 11).

Igor Stimac’s Blue Tigers need to win to have a chance of finishing second in the group, but coach Igor Stimac is not under immense pressure.

Stimac’s feelings for the Qatar game

Ahead of the game, Igor Stimac spoke about the excitement in his group for this clash and said: “We are very excited about the game which is awaiting us. We could see that it was a changed Qatar team against Afghanistan and many young talented players played them.

“We are very excited to see what we can do facing such young talented players and we are looking for a win. We will do everything to win the game and then we can count on qualifying for the third round.”

On playing against a young Qatar team

Qatar are expected to play a young and inexperienced team in this game, as most of their AFC Asian Cup 2023 winning team players are not included.

Speaking about the prospect of facing this tweaked team, Igor Stimac explained: “It’s different team from the one we faced and the one that became Asian Champions.

“But it’s Qatar, it’s the Qatar national team, and whoever is there are players that people in charge of Qatari football believe is a strong generation, and they are using this opportunity to provide good chances for them to mature quicker and feel what it means to lay international games for the senior team.

“This is a good step forward for Qatari football and also a good opportunity to see where we stand as we have many U-23 players in our team and it’ll be a great test for us.

“We watched the last game against Afghanistan, and it was obvious that their boys are well educated in regards to positioning, and defensive transitions, and are very comfortable in passing the ball around. It’s not going to be easy, far from that. But we do see our chance, and we’ll do everything to try to get the points,” Igor Stimac added.

“We watched the last game against Afghanistan, and it was obvious that their boys are well-educated concerning positioning, and defensive transitions, and are very comfortable in passing the ball around. It’s not going to be easy, far from that. But we do see our chance, and we’ll do everything to try to get the points,” Igor Stimac added.

Also Read: Qatar vs India Preview, predicted lineup, injury news, H2H, telecast | 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Absence of Sunil Chhetri

When asked about how much India will miss a striker like Sunil Chhetri, who played his last game against Kuwait, Igor Stimac revealed: “We are trying not to think about him. In the last five years, we played many games without Sunil and we were quite good, I would say.

“We were composed as a team and we have other leaders in the team who need to step up to replace him when he’s not with us. No need to mention how much we miss him, his personality, his leadership skills, his football qualities and all that. I won’t go back to that. This is about India, not about any particular person. We are a team and need to stay well focused on what needs to be done and not on who is not with us.”

Igor Stimac’s approach and timing conflicts of matches

Igor Stimac refused to give much away in terms of tactics but still hinted: “I won’t talk about that. You’ll see that tomorrow. I won’t talk about tactics for tomorrow’s game, but we’ll try to reach the point where we can count on scoring goals. To win the game, we can score the goals. The closer to the goal we are, the more chances we have to score goals. So you can imagine what we are going to do.”

Igor Stimac is also furious that the timing of the Qatar-India and Kuwait-Afghanistan games are at different times, which is against the rules for such decisive qualifying games.

Igor Stimac ranted: “That’s very strange. Going by the rules, the final matches of the qualifying stages should be at the same time. I’m quite surprised that something like this is still happening and there is a given opportunity for some calculations because it’s not right. These decisive matches should be played at the same time, never mind the time zone or who is playing who.

“All of us in the football family, be it UEFA or FIFA, are trying to stay away from suspicious things and doing everything not to be exposed negatively. It should be about fair play and protecting such behavior, and the only thing we could do is to make the kickoff time at the same time for the final matches of the group. I’m very surprised they (AFC) did not take care of that,” it was also added.

What has Igor Stimac changed in Indian football in last five years?

Finally, Igor Stimac gave a lengthy explanation of the changes he’s seen in the Indian team over the last five years. Igor Stimac explained: “We have seen many, many changes in our team. Because we barely have anyone from the Asian Cup 2019 in our team apart from Gurpreet.

“So there is a huge change from the 4-5 years. There are many youngsters introduced to the Indian team, nearly everyone from the generation of the U-17 who represented India in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup got their chance to play for the national team and most are core parts of our team.

“We think we succeeded in what was ahead of us and make sure these boys mature quicker and provide certain stability for India for the future where there is now still structured football and where there is scouting system is still not working properly.

“But with the diversity and size of India, that is also difficult, especially after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic in such certain circumstances That was terrible for us. But we did good things and have had many ups and downs on our way, but we created hope in India I would say, which was nowhere to be seen before.

“I’m proud of my boys, who are always going out on the pitch, regardless of whoever we play, we are never thinking of being outsiders or someone who is there to just concede goals. In each game, whoever was there on the other side, the only thing on our mind was how to win the game. The attitude and mindset of our players have changed, and I’m proud of that as that was the most difficult task and we did it.

“I tell my players every time that you don’t mind the results, the results are on me. The only thing you need to do when you play for India is to enjoy yourself, keep in mind that you are representing the country and be more emotional and passionate about it because you have the opportunity to make 1.5 billion people happy. How many footballers in the world have that opportunity?

“For tomorrow, there will be 90 minutes ahead of us representing India and a fantastic opportunity to make all those Indians around the world happy. We are going to die on the pitch tomorrow if needed,” Igor Stimac finished with.

Brandon Fernandes comments

Brandon Fernandes spoke about the importance of winning this game and weighed on India’s ability to do so, explaining: “For us, it’s a very important game. We know how important a win is for every player and the country as a whole.

“We are here representing our country, and we’ll give our best as a team and whatever the result might be, we need to put up a performance to be proud of. If we can play as a team and put up a good performance, we are capable of taking all three points.”

“For me, in football everything is possible. It’ll be 11v11 on the pitch. If we go with a good mindset to win the game, we’ll get something out of it. It depends on the other results too, so maybe a draw can be good for us. We’ll have to go with a lot of hunger to win the game and if we do that, we can get something out of the game,” Brandon added.

Also Read: India vs Qatar: All time head-to-head record

Qatar head coach

We will die on that pitch if needed, says Igor Stimac ahead of Qatar clash.
Qatar head coach Tintin Marquez and player Homam Ahmed expecting a tough encounter against India (Credit: QFootLive & Sudesh Baniya)

“For us, it is an important match and we’ve had a short time to prepare.”

“I am happy with the match that we played against Afghanistan. The young players did all the instructions that I put out. The young players are motivated for the match.”

“It is not the second team – they have already played a lot of matches. I want to see fresh talent in Qatar and develop them. I have all the respect for the opponent and our players have the quality.” said Qatar head coach Tintin Marquez ahead of the match.

Homam Ahmed

“I think we’ll have a tough game because India is very well organized and we have a big motivation to win – we are ready for the game for sure, and we will get these three points.”

“All the new players are brave and we have a good team. We’ve been training well and as you saw against Afghanistan, a lot of players made their debut. They all have great future and I can say they all have a good future ahead”, told QFootLive.

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