The Indian men's football team head coach, Igor Stimac stated that since his team will not get enough time for the training sessions, tactical preparation will be done on the flight board to Hangzhou, ahead of its Asian Games match against host China in Hangzhou on Tuesday. The scuffle between the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the Indian Super Leagues (ISL) clubs over the release of many players for the Asian Games delayed the time for preparation. Des Buckingham’s Mumbai City FC Sets Sights on Recreating Past Success in ISL 2023–24 Season.
“The players are arriving at the airport at 5-6 p.m. today. We have a flight at 10 p.m. and will reach Hong Kong at 7 a.m. We then need to wait another 5-6 hours to take a flight to Hangzhou, where we will reach at 5 p.m. (on Monday). We will not have a single training session before the game. We will give tactical preparation at the airport and on the flight. We need to let players rest once we reach Hangzhou before the first game,” said Stimac.
The revised list released by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports late on Friday hardly left Stimac with time to build up the team for the match.
“There is no reason to look back now. It’s time to focus on what can be done within our power to open the tournament with a good fight. We cannot expect more. More importantly, I will need to approach this very carefully and discuss with the players about their physical conditions,” Stimac added. “I am meeting many of them for the first time and it will help me make up my mind about them. There is no time to cry now and go back. We will have to just use this time wisely.”
India is grouped with China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar and will play three matches in five days. Stimac also expressed his views on skipper Sunil Chhetri and defender Sandesh Jhingam, (two senior players of the squad), and whether they will play the opening game eyeing the FIFA World Cup Qualifier next month.
“I am not thinking about the China game. I am thinking about Bangladesh and Myanmar. Don’t be surprised if I leave out Sunil [Chhetri] and Jhingan for the first game,” he said.
With concerns and demand over some experienced players in the squad, Stimac’s request was fulfilled after goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was named in the revised squad. But the team still lacks, experience as many players in the squad are fringe players in the ISL with no experience in the top division.
“These things [squad selection issues] are following us continuously. We are getting players just before kick-off. I think it’s unjust. These elements are happening,” said the head coach.
“In the final list which is there, there are some experienced players. But what I have in my mind is to look at World Cup qualifiers. This tournament is for players to show their talent and show they deserve better opportunities with their ISL teams.
“These are the only players we have got. We will have to use wingers in fullback or even have them fill in at centre-back,” concluded Stimac. Visa Delay Hampers Indian Footballers Chinglensana Singh and Lalchungnunga’s Travel Plans for Asian Games 2023.
Along with lacking a recognizable fullback, the side only has three goalkeepers, five central defenders, four midfielders, and ten strikers in its travelling squad of 22 players. While noting Deepak Tangri's recent comeback from ACL surgery, Stimac indicated he will rely on Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Ayush Chhetri for the centre midfield roles.
Goalkeepers: Gurmeet Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.
Defenders: Sumit Rathi, Narender Gahlot, Deepak Tangri, Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Lalchungnunga.
Midfielders: Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Samuel James Lyngdoh, Rahul KP, Abdul Rabeeh, Ayush Dev Chhetri, Bryce Miranda, Azfar Noorani, Vincy Barretto.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Rahim Ali, Rohit Danu, Gurkirat Singh, Aniket Jadhav.
Head coach: Igor Stimac
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 18, 2023 04:39 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).