India football coach Igor Stimac to tinker with line-up for UAE friendly

Updated on Mar 28, 2021 07:34 PM IST

A tougher opponent than Oman by his own admission, but it will not stop Stimac from bringing in new players from his 27-man squad in the match against UAE.

India national coach Igor Stimac.(AIFF)
India national coach Igor Stimac.(AIFF)

After handing international debuts to 10 players in the 1-1 draw against Oman last week, India head coach Igor Stimac has said he will ring in the changes again for Monday’s friendly against UAE at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai.

Stimac told reporters in the virtual pre-match press conference: “We are considering new options (for Monday). These are friendlies and we can experiment in these games.”

The 53-year-old Croatian said centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, who was captain against Oman, will be left out of Monday’s line-up to try out others. “Sandesh will not be involved because I need to give chances to the other guys like Mashoor (Shereef) and Adil (Khan). It won’t make sense if I call players and don’t give them chances in these games.”

Asked about the impressive performance of Lalengmawia—better known as Apuia—as a second half substitute against Oman, Stimac said the Mizo midfielder will start against UAE. “We are all aware that we have a young, quality player (in Apuia). But it was not just him (who helped India improve in the second half against Oman); the other players helped him too. They were passing quicker, simpler. I can say he (Apuia) will start tomorrow,” he said.

The captain’s armband will be worn by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who will replace Amrinder Singh on Monday.

Acknowledging UAE as superior to Oman, Stimac said India will have to be quicker on the ball. “We expect UAE to be a more difficult opponent. They are more technical than Oman. They will put pressure on our midfield. But that is why we are here. We need to survive these situations. We need to be quick in our passing and in transitions,” he added.

“(We need to improve) positioning of the ball in the middle; that’s where we need to have better control. In international football, if you take a lot of time and space, you will get hurt. We have to understand that this is not ISL (Indian Super League).”

India, placed 104 in the FIFA world rankings, haven’t beaten the 74th-ranked UAE since a 1-0 win in 2001, in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. The last time the teams met was at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. UAE won 2-0 after India missed a number of chances.

(Watch India vs UAE - 29th March, 2021, Zabeel Stadium at 20:30 hrs (8:30 pm) IST on Eurosport and Eurosport HD)

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