The Blue Tigers’ tactician emphasized that his main target is to make it to the final round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers.

India are set to lock horns against Asian champions, Qatar away from home after their heartbreaking 1-2 loss against Oman in their first FIFA World Cup Qualifier.

Indian national team head coach Igor Stimac was very optimistic that his boys will give their best against the Maroons, who are undoubtedly the toughest opposition in the group.

Speaking of preparations Stimac said, “We did not have much time to be very honest. We know Qatar are one of the finest in Asia, winning the Asian Cup. Then they had a great tournament in South America, once again proving how they are going up. We gave everything in the Oman game. So, nothing special from a preparation point of view, mostly keeping them fresh and talking to them ahead of tomorrow’s game.”

The Indian custodian, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who accompanied his coach to the press conference was asked about the mentality of the players after a heartbreaking loss to Oman.

“I feel not getting the desired result was disappointing for all of us, but as a player you have to look forward to the next challenge. So, I believe that the players are looking to play against a good team like Qatar and give a good account of ourselves,” added the Bengaluru FC goalkeeper.

Stimac also explained how his team is still in transition. He believes that the Indian players will learn quickly, as they have developed a lot in terms of technique compared to what they used to play earlier. He also praised his side’s performance against Oman.

Speaking about the over-reliance on Sunil Chhetri upfront and options for the future after their talisman’s retirement, Stimac added, “We have some youngsters who can do the job, but I hope they will get more chances to play for their clubs back in India. Hopefully, they will be given more chances, otherwise nothing will work in our favour.”

The Croatian tactician also denied the allegations of fitness being an area of concern after his team’s defeat against Oman.

“No! I have seen people mention fitness, but there are a number of overruns, sprints with maximum speed. But, effectiveness was missing, that is what happens with us. Oman were the more experienced side, as we put in too many sprints wasting energy,” added Stimac.

The Croatian also sang praises of the opposition team, Qatar and wants to share their journey as an inspiration to other teams in Asia. He feels that the Maroons have developed a lot in recent years and are at par with some of the European teams and in future, they will be at par will the best teams in the world.

Stimac concluded by speaking about his future plans as he said, “We are mainly working on stabilizing our game and giving more matches to younger players. We are going to try and get to the final round of the Asian Cup in a couple of years. If there is a chance to surprise Oman away from home, if everything goes well against Afghanisthan and Bangladesh, then we will see. We know Qatar is in a different league in our group.”