Kolkata, October 15: Admitting that his team conceded a 'silly' goal, coach Igor Stimac on Tuesday said India have a lot to work on ahead of the next set of matches after they played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against much lower-ranked Bangladesh in a Group E Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup tie here. A first-half strike from Saad Uddin in the 42nd minute helped Bangladesh take a shock lead against India, who are 83 places above them and drew 0-0 against Asian champions Qatar in their last game. Adil Khan equalised in the 88th minute to save the hosts the blushes.
"Bangladesh were resilient. We did not react well and conceded a silly goal. India is trying to play modern and technical football. There is still much more to do," Stimac told reporters at the post-match press conference. Backing his young players, the Croatian 1998 World Cup bronze medallist said: "We need to stay optimistic. We have shown we have the confidence to play against anyone." Indian Fans Show Massive Support for Blue Tigers on Twitter As IND vs BAN FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers Match Commences in Kolkata.
India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was to blame for not being able to catch the ball in the 42nd minute when Saad Uddin nodded in from skipper Jamal Bhuyan's free-kick. Backing his tall custodian who made innumerable saves in Doha last month, Stimac said: "That's the life of a goalkeeper. Sometimes you have a great day and sometimes you make mistakes from judgement. These are my players and I will defend them with all my life."
He said India deserved to win the game although the goal they leaked in unacceptable. "The goal we conceded is not accepted and you don't win like that. But we played good football and we deserve to win the game. We played with courage." Since Brandon Fernandes came on, India played better. When asked why he wasn't started, Stimac revealed he was carrying an injury from the camp in Guwahati.
"Brandon missed six-seven days of training. With Brandon, we are a better side but you cannot control certain things." India have two points from three games and cannot afford any further slip up if they are to harbour any chance of qualifying to the next round.
"Many points are there to be taken. We lost two points today. We will go for all the points in the next games no matter who we are playing. There will be many more surprising results in this group," Stimac said. The stadium was packed to capacity and there were 65,000 spectators watching.
Stimac said he has been part of bigger games but this will be remembered."I had many bigger games in my career but I will remember this game." Meanwhile, Bangladesh coach Jamie Day said the plan was to defend in numbers and attack India on the counter and that worked as they earned a free-kick and the goal came from there.
"I thought we played exceptionally well. We frustrated India. Boys stuck to the game plan. Disappointed that we conceded in the end. We never expected to win coming here and play in front of 70k people. I am pleased to get a point." Bangladesh got their first point after losing the first two games in the campaign.