We need to control the game: Stimac

India takes on Cambodia at Kolkata stadium on June 8

Kolkata, June 7 (UNI): On the eve of India’s campaign against Cambodia in the Asian Cup Qualifiers, country’s head coach Igor Stimac expressed his confidence on his boys and said “passion from the stands (fans) will add to the extra strength in the legs, and hearts of the players”.

India will take on Cambodia in Group D at the Salt Lake stadium here on Wednesday evening where two other nations — Hong Kong and Afghanistan — will feature for the qualifiers’ challenge.


“We are expecting the fans to come in numbers, to support the national team in the best way possible. Our intent is to press from the start, play at high pressure, and at a high intensity. We need to control the game, and I have to say we are ready for that. We have nothing to hide,” Stimac told a media conference on Tuesday.

“For me as a coach, it is not important who scores. But it’s important that we score. We need to accept that our recent oppositions – Bahrain, Belarus, and Jordan – were technically better than us. But we had our chances, and failed to capitalize on them,” Igor quipped. “We have young players who are feeling the pressure of being in the National team. We need to push these young players earlier in their career, and need to be patient.”

Referring to a query about the team’s conceding late goals, the coach said, “I’m not worried as we are now ready to battle it out for 90 minutes. There is more strength in our legs and more oxygen in our brains. We have been training to our strengths, and it has helped us a lot.”

Defender Sandesh Jhingan, who also was with his coach during the media briefing, said “qualifying for the Asian Cup should be a norm for Indian football. The mentality needs to be that India will be at the Asian Cup.”

“I joined the team a bit late. But when I came in, I could gauge the improvement in the squad. The improvement among players individually was there to see. We are motivated. We know the potential of this batch, and we need to start delivering,” Jhingan said.

Jhingan hinted that maintaining a clean sheet is paramount for the boys. “Clean sheet is a simple concept for any team. Every team that goes into a match carries that mentality with them. There’s no concept in modern football that only defenders will defend. The team needs to be in sync. The striker is the first defender, while the goalkeeper is the first attacker,” he added.

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