Adaptation to international football is the key: Igor Stimac

Ajeyo Basu

LAST UPDATED: March 28, 2021, 4:38 p.m.

New Delhi: India head coach Igor Stimac stressed on the importance of players adapting to the rigours of football at the international level, in order to take the team forward together, on the eve of India’s International Friendly against the UAE at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai on Monday.

After a good comeback against Oman in a match where Stimac fielded 10 debutants, the India head coach felt that giving opportunities to such players at the international level is crucial, in order for them to adapt.

“There are things we are too comfortable with. When you take too much time on the ball, the opponents will hurt you. We need to change that mindset. There is no time and space in international football, you have to adapt and play quickly,” stated Stimac.

The 53-year-old highlighted his rotational policy in the International Friendlies, in order to ensure that everyone adapts to the rigours of international football.

“We are looking to play these stronger teams so that we can advance our game. It’s not always easy to find better opponents, because everyone is looking to find more out of the friendly matches,” said Stimac.

“They will put us under a lot of pressure. But, we need to hold the ball and control our passing. I don’t expect us to control the game against such stronger opponents. They are a side that has been doing it for many years. But, we are here to learn from the experience.”

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While Stimac looks to prepare the new generation of Blue Tigers for the challenges up ahead, senior players like goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu have been leading by example.

“When I joined the National Team, I was probably the youngest player, but I’m on the other side of the spectrum now. The most important thing I learnt from my seniors was to set a good example,” said Gurpreet. “It’s always better to do the good things yourself, and let them learn from you, rather than just talk and bore them.”

India came out with a draw against Oman in their first International Friendly this year, not only due to a perfectly-placed header by Manvir Singh but also due to a number of top saves by keeper Amrinder Singh, which also included a saved penalty.

With Gurpreet also waiting on the bench in the last game, Stimac now seems to have a ‘headache’ about which goalkeeper to play. On that front, he hailed the impact of both the keepers on the team.

“It’s great to have such headaches when you have two such good goalkeepers,” smiled Stimac. “It’s not only that. Both of them are great human beings too. They do everything to keep the mood positive in the camp.”

Gurpreet further went on to state that while both Amrinder and himself are good pals off the pitch, they try to push each other forward together through their performances.

“I’m lucky to have Amrinder by my side. If there was no Amrinder, there would have been no Gurpreet, and if there were no Gurpreet, there would not have been any Amrinder,” he said. “It would not be the same without the competition. At the end of the day, it’s all for the betterment of Indian Football.”

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