Igor Stimac

Indian men’s football team head coach Igor Stimac was pleased with his team’s performance as India finished their AFC Asian Cup qualifiers campaign with a 4-0 victory over Hong Kong at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on June 12 in style.

Anwar Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh, and Ishan Pandita scored in a comfortable win over Hong Kong who were considered the strongest opponents for Igor Stimac’s side before heading into this match.

“I feel good and happy, not just for myself. I’m happy for the players and the people who were supporting years in the last three years, which haven’t been easy. I’m happy for the supporters who came here and in the past few games to support us. I appreciate it a lot,” the 54-year-old Croatian said.

The Blue Tigers demonstrated their dominance by smashing their opponents. With this win, India finished first in the group with nine points from three wins and also secured their second consecutive Asian Cup main-round entry for the first time in the tournament’s history.

And the gaffer rated this victory highly.

“I have huge plans with India so this game should be one of the top ones. No, I’m really happy because it’s been tremendous work in the past seven weeks,” Stimac said.

“And that’s what happens when you give me enough time to work with these boys. When you give me these players one or two days prior to the, I will not use that word, then you’ll get shut as simple as that. You need to think about the future, how much these boys deserve to be together, and present India like this.”

One of the most high-profile coaches to manage the Indian men’s national football team, Stimac was appointed to the top post in May 2019 for a two-year term. Later his term was extended.

On what has been the biggest reward for you as an India coach, the former defender said: “Trust from players.”

“They never lose faith in what we did and that’s why we played like we did today. We knew what was going on around us and I knew that if at any point my players stopped following what we do, I would’ve gone back home. The players are trying to save my job. I came here for a less salary than what was my market price. I had offers from others for better-paid jobs than I saw in India. The coach was never the problem in this country, you should talk about other problems.”

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