The Blue Tigers’ head coach shared his thoughts with the media following the 1-1 draw.
The Indian national team came from behind to hold Oman to a draw which was their first positive result against Al-Ahmar in the last three meetings. The first half saw India playing some drab football as Oman dominated proceedings and took the lead through an unfortunate own-goal from Chinglensana Singh. However, Manvir Singh came up with the equalizer in the second half when he headed home a pinpoint cross from Bipin Singh. While Igor Stimac was happy with THE ten new debutants that he introduced in thE game, he was not impressed with the first half performance.
Reflections on game
“The only good thing about the game was the result at the end. To be honest, I was very worried after the first half because we could not find a way to hold the ball. We couldn’t find a player except for Suresh (Wangjam) who is one of the youngest. We did not take responsibility and try to do things that we were doing in the training pitch. Therefore, Oman used this window, as they did put a lot of pressure on our back four,” Igor Stimac said after the match.
“But I must say that the whole team reacted very well in the second half. They did their best and they tried everything. There were some good transitions which I was looking for but in the end, I have to say that I am happy because of the ten debutants. Ten new faces with some of them spending big minutes on the pitch this season and others with few, but they did their best,” he added.
Some of the debutants had a decent outing against Oman where they showed their calibre, but Stimac feels that the players need to grow more muscle, as they were physically dominated by the oppositions. He said, “I don’t think I need to repeat myself every day. You could see the importance when I say that we need more muscle in the team.
“You could see how strong Oman were, how strong tacklers they are and they play and pass the ball very quickly. We have some very quick players in the team, but they could not run away from the Omani defenders, which is telling you a lot. So, there is a lot of hard work left in front of us, we need to build our shoulder for whatever it takes. We should bring some muscle to our bodies and keep working hard.”
The Blue Tigers were given a wake-up call by the Croatian tactician at the half-time break, as they were not closing down their opposition in their half. Stimac admitted that he had to repeat himself again, as he did not see the players doing the things that he asked them to do in the first half.
“I had to repeat myself, as we did not do two things that I asked them to do. We did not put pressure on the Omani players when the ball was in our half, we stayed away from the ball allowing them to create chances. They created a lot of problems and were high in confidence. I told them to go out and play without fear, as result is a thing that I must take care of. We had some individual intensity from Manvir and Ashique (Kuruniyan), but that was not what we were looking for. We wanted to do transitions as a compact group,” he revealed.
Upcoming UAE clash
Lastly, when questioned about the upcoming match against the United Arab Emirates, the Indian head coach was pragmatic with his answer but did not completely rule out the Blue Tigers ahead of the match.
“We showed in the second half that there is nothing to fear about, but of course these are better sides. When you get inside the top 100 the difference of 20-30 ranks means a lot. So, there is still a big gap between UAE, Oman in comparison to us. However, it does not mean we can’t get results. We can get results and we showed it today. It is a new day and a new game. I will give chances to the rest of the players and that’s because we are here to give chances and see all the players,” Igor Stimac concluded.