After having suffered a heart-breaking defeat to Oman in their first match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 joint qualifiers, Indian national team head coach Igor Stimac mentioned that ‘players team has progressed a lot’.

“The players are quick-learners and that’s what makes me believe that we can do great things. We need to understand that we need to progress step-by-step,” he stated. “This is the new face of India and we have a lot of positive things to talk about, so let’s keep talking about them.”

“Everyone could see a new Indian team on the pitch – a team that was different from before, and one that has a bright future. We have many more options now in terms of players to choose from and we need to keep working on ourselves and move forward,” he added.

Skipper Sunil Chhetri gave his team the lead in the 24th minute and after a fine first-half showing, the Blue Tigers were minutes away from putting points on the board but Al-Mandhar Al Alawi scored a late brace to hand Oman the win.

Stimac stressed on how patience is the key, and that with time, the team will learn to “kill” games in the early stages of the match – having created numerous scoring chances in the first 45 minutes in Guwahati.

“We could have scored many goals in the first half and killed the game then, and there. My players are fitter than the Oman players, but they are more experienced. A time will come when we are not going to lose games like this, and put the game to bed early. But for that, we need to continue working hard, and be patient,” he commented.

“The boys made me proud and I am sure all Indian fans as well. The way they played and fought for their country, and ran and chased down the opposition players was something we need to be proud of.”

The Blue Tigers fly to Delhi on September 6 evening, and then fly to Doha the next day morning where they next face defending Asian champions and the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar in their next qualifying match, that will take place at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on September 10.

“We have been working on many things, such as ball possession, and handling the ball well in tight areas. One can see that we are very stable now in the midfield, where there is a lot of pressure. You can see Borges and Thapa play differently from before. They are fighting and winning the second balls, and their composure in passing in all directions is brilliant,” he remarked.

Story written and released by AIFF Media Team

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