“We are improving from game to game…”: Indian football coach Igor Stimac

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Bengaluru (Karnataka): Ahead of India’s SAFF Championship semifinal match against Lebanon, Indian head coach Igor Stimac expressed happiness with his team’s performances and said that Anwar Ali’s own goal has not dampened the spirits of Blue Tigers, calling it a “part of football”.
The ongoing SAFF Championship has been dubbed as one of the most competitive editions in the tournament’s history, and the cliffhanger between India and Kuwait was a testament to that.
It may have ended in heartbreak for the Blue Tigers, who were en route to a deserving victory until an unlucky Anwar Ali own goal led to a share of points, but head coach Igor Stimac revealed that the result has, in no way, dampened the spirits in the national camp.
“We are improving from game to game. We have a great mood whenever we step out on the training pitch. We knew that some time or the other, we were going to concede a goal. We did not expect it would happen with a self-goal at the last minute. But that’s part of football, and you need to accept it,” said Stimac as quoted by an All India Football Federation (AIFF) press release.
There was plenty of drama on and off the pitch in the final 10 minutes of the game, which saw three red cards – two for India (Stimac and Rahim Ali) and one for Kuwait (Hamad Al-Qallaf). The late equaliser led to theatrical reactions from the visitors’ bench, which celebrated by making aggressive gestures towards the Indian dugout. The West Asians’ behaviour was a moral victory in itself, according to Stimac.
“The important thing is that we dominated Kuwait in all aspects of the game. So, I am really happy with the boys. We are now preparing for the semi-finals, and everything is going to be okay and in place there,” said the former Croatia international.
The Blue Tigers have put that result in the past, and the sole focus is now on the semi-final against Lebanon on Saturday. After already facing the Cedars twice in the Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar earlier this month, including in the final, India will head into the clash with confidence, but also with the intent to make it a perfect game.
“There is not much to complain about. We need to improve in those moments of the game when our focus and concentration need to be at the highest possible level and try not to give away anything,” stated Stimac.
“The part I am not satisfied with is when we give away simple passes without any pressure because, after that, you need to waste an enormous amount of energy to get the ball back with the high press that we do. Overall, I am very happy with the boys. They are coming very close to the level where I want them to be,” he added.
According to the latest FIFA Men’s Rankings released on Thursday, June 29, 2023, India has risen by one place to 100 courtesy of their Intercontinental Cup triumph. “I am happy with the news, but we need to cement that position in our next few games,” commented Stimac.

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