The Blue Tigers’ boss also stressed that the players’ mentality helped them attain the stalemate against the Asian giants.
The Indian football team put up a gallant fight to steal a point from the grasp of reigning Asian champions Qatar, in a goalless stalemate in their second 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualififying match on Tuesday night.
The Blue Tigers held their fort till the last minute against the Maroons who threw everything at Igor Stimac‘s men. The skipper of the Blue Tigers, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stood tall against the West Asians, making multiple saves throughout the match to keep his side in the game.
Watch: Qatar Vs India post-match analysis
During the post-match press conference when Stimac was quizzed about his feelings after taking a point from the game the Croatian tactician said, “As a coach, I don’t have much time looking back, but I am more than happy to take a point from the Asian champions. We have a lot of points to improve, but on the other hand, congratulations to my players.”
“Of course, they created many chances and they deserve more from the game, but we had a few chances and that will come with experience. I am proud of my boys. But, I want to send one message, that they should be grounded, as it is only one point.”
Stimac also replied to his critics, mainly those who were blaming the fitness of his team in the latter stages of the second half against Oman in their first qualifying match. The Blue Tigers held on against a considerably better team and there were no signs of fatigue or loss of concentration in the Indian backline.
“I cannot answer everyone, as not many people have proper knowledge about football. So, it is about them to have an opinion as they wish,” Stimac quipped. “But, today, we showed what we are against Qatar, who are just on a different level in this group,” he added.
“Defending against them for 95 minutes and maintaining the high level of concentration throughout the game is, therefore, an answer to the doubters,” the tactician further went on to assert.
The Croatian also sang the praises of his players and their change in mindset. He believes that India can have a great future ahead, if the players keep the mindset of a winner in future matches.
“It was very important for all of my players and most of them are working very hard. Everyone can work harder and be fitter,” the 52-year-old said.
“But, the main thing that matters is the right mindset to become a winner and I had that in my players. We have a great future and I don’t mind taking a point today, that is the beauty of football. Where there is danger there is also opportunity,” he added.
Stimac also spoke about the crowd support away from home that his team had on Tuesday night as he went on to say, “Considering our population, I expected support for us here in Qatar and now this result will give the supporters motivation to come to the stadium for our next match. I want to see more people in Kolkata against Bangladesh to help us secure three points.”