The 22-year-old spoke about his struggle to adapt to the new philosophy in an exclusive interview with Khel Now.

The Indian football team will play against Qatar at home in March 2020 in the second round of 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifiers. Virtually out of contention for a spot in the third round of qualifiers, India needs to win the game and young full-back Nishu Kumar is confident they will upset the reigning Asian champions.

A narrow 1-0 defeat against Oman in an away game last month dashed India’s hopes of qualifying for the third round of World Cup qualifiers. However, they can still secure a third-round berth for the Asian Cup qualifiers.

India are still winless in the qualifiers and with just three points in five matches, the team currently sits on the fourth position in the Group E. Even the second-placed team is not guaranteed an automatic spot in the next round.

However, the third as well as the fourth-placed teams will get a spot in the Asian Cup qualifiers. Previously, the Blue Tigers had managed a goalless draw against Qatar away from home under head coach Igor Stimac and Nishu Kumar believes they will be able to beat the Asian Champions this time around.

“The Indian team is going through a transition right now as our coach is trying to bring a new philosophy into power. He has done excellent work with us so far and we need some time to adapt to his new methods,” Nishu Kumar said to Khel Now.

The 22-year-old remarked, “We are trying hard and playing good football at the moment. As you know, we have some problems with our scoring but the rest of the things are going pretty well. We are confident that we will win the upcoming match against Qatar and are very positive about the results.”

On Carles Cuadrat

Further, Nishu Kumar, who has been playing for Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) since the 2017-18 season, spoke very highly of head coach Carles Cuadrat. Having played in all 10 matches this season, he explained the positive influence of Cuadrat on his game.

“We have been playing possession-based football for a while under Cuadrat in Bengaluru FC and I like the way we are playing as a team at the moment.”

“Initially, it was hard for me to play out from the back as I was not that good technically. I used to play differently in my academy days but I trained hard to adapt to this new style and now it’s paying dividends. The national team is also playing the same possession-based football and we are improving day by day.”

Similar to Cuadrat, Igor Stimac also prefers to play out from the back with more ball possession. However, Nishu believes it would be wrong to compare both the coaches.

“We can’t compare Cuadrat and Stimac as everyone has a different philosophy. But, their style of play is almost similar because both of them like to play out from the back with more ball possession. There are minor differences though and I think we are getting used to it.”

The Indian team will face Bangladesh and Afghanistan in June 2020 after the much-awaited home game against Qatar.