Sunil Chhetri has claimed that the whole side is enjoying the whole new set up under Igor Stimac.
Indian Skipper Sunil Chhetri has made a statement about the possession-based football which the current side is ‘enjoying’ under Igor Stimac. The Croat took over as the coach weeks before the Kings Cup, where the men in blue finished third by edging the hosts Thailand 1-0.
The Indian side are currently faring in the Intercontinental Cup – competing with the likes of Syria, Tajikistan, and North Korea. During the first game in Ahmedabad, the Blues had a two-goal lead against Tajikistan before the first-half whistle. But, the visitors entered the second half with a whole different mentality to disrupt Stimac’s side and put four past them.
Sunil Chhetri managed to score two in that game, but it ended up in the vain. The Skipper said that the whole team was working hard to bounce back from the defeat and stressed on the importance of keeping calm. They will now face North Korea on Saturday.
“We need to learn from all the mistakes in the Tajikistan game and try to rectify them as much as possible. Individually, as well as collectively, we are all working hard on that. The most important thing is to keep calm and put your head down and work,” he said.
“No one else is going to help you, which means we have to pick ourselves up and give a good account of ourselves against DPR Korea to churn out a positive result,” Chhetri said at the match-eve press conference.
He also said that the whole is ‘enjoying’ the whole possession-based football under the new manager Igor Stimac. The former Croatian manager has won one from three games in charge, but he has the trust of the players, who are striving to improve.
“The majority of our focus is on keeping the ball. There are a lot of movements and players asking for the ball. Of course, at times, we have to put safety first and we cannot be passing in defence all the time needlessly,” said the country’s most capped player.
“Eventually, whether it works or not, only time will tell, but I can say that I am enjoying this style and all the players are enjoying as well. The more we are in sync with the coach, it is better for us and we will back him in all his plans for the team,” he added.
Stimac had already stated that the Intercontinental Cup was part of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
Having already faced Thailand and Curacao in the Kings Cup, Chhetri is excited by the prospect of facing some of Asia’s best teams, with North Korea, Syria, and Tajikistan faring in the Intercontinental Cup.
“The level of opposition is really good. I don’t remember the last time we played five countries of this quality together. We might lose some and might win some but these are the games you want to target,” the captain said.
“Unless you play these teams, you never know where you stand. We’ll certainly be stronger after these games and they are important if we want to go to the next level.”
Chhetri also added about the importance of playing top-quality opposition to allow the coach picking 18-23 quality players to the World Cup Qualifiers.
“The two games in Thailand and three here have been really crucial. We are understanding what the coach wants from us exactly and this tournament is a progression where he is still looking for first 18-23 set of players,” he said.
Following the opening day defeat to Tajikistan, India will hope to put those disappointments away against North Korea on Saturday, followed by Syria clash three days later.