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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Qatar draw will mean nothing if we don’t win in Kolkata: Igor Stimac

Stimac’s squad of 28 players --- left-back Jerry Lalrinzuala has not joined because he is injured --- started a preparatory camp in Guwahati on Friday.

football Updated: Oct 05, 2019 22:44 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
File photo of Igor Stimac.
File photo of Igor Stimac.(REUTERS)

If India don’t get full points against Bangladesh, the draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha will count for nothing, said head coach Igor Stimac.

“We have full right to celebrate that (0-0) result but we don’t have time for that. I told the players in the dressing room (after the game on September 10) that we have to forget the result immediately. Because there is another game in front and if we don’t get three points out of that one, the point from Doha means nothing. So, it was a great result, great achievement, one that will be written in the history of Indian football but for us doesn’t mean a lot because there are many more points in front of us,” said Stimac at a media conference in Guwahati on Saturday.

That said, Stimac is trying to ensure that the pressure to deliver a win stays out of the change room. “We are working to improve our style of play, the quality, possessional and positional play. That way we are trying to take the pressure out of the dressing room,” he said.

Stimac’s squad of 28 players --- left-back Jerry Lalrinzuala has not joined because he is injured --- started a preparatory camp in Guwahati on Friday. India play Bangladesh in group E of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers in Kolkata on October 15.

Comparing India’s third game to one between Croatia and Serbia or any other neighbouring country and hence “much more than football”, Stimac said India would have to attack for 90 minutes at the Salt Lake stadium. “We need to find a way to break two defensive blocks Bangladesh are likely to set up. We need to find a way against a side that moves well. The players are fully aware of the danger they possess.”

Stimac said defensive midfielder Rowllin Borges, who is booked out of the Bangladesh game, didn’t get enough praise for his performance in the games against Oman and Qatar. “He was equal to (goalkeeper) Gurpreet (Singh). How he organised midfielders around him, passed with good accuracy and amazing distance he covered! He did everything that I asked him to do. If he keeps playing like this he can go far.”

Borges played three seasons for NorthEast United, against whom India will play a friendly in Guwahati on October 9, before moving to Mumbai City this term.

Stimac said skipper Sunil Chhetri’s presence, on and off the pitch, is very important for this team. “But we have shown we can exist and survive without Sunil (against Qatar). That was the biggest challenge and we made it. But I am glad he is back.” Chettri missed the tie in Doha because he was down with fever.

First Published: Oct 05, 2019 22:41 IST

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