File photo of Indian football team coach Igor Stimac© X (formerly Twitter)
Indian football team coach Igor Stimac once again criticised the lack of preparation time for the side ahead of the Asian Games 2023 after his side was defeated by Saudi Arabia in the Round of 16 stage. The side, led by Sunil Chhetri, went down fighting as Saudi Arabia won the match 0-2 but Stimac believes that the result could have been way worse. There were doubts over India’s participation in the Asian Games followed by tussle with clubs over the availability of certain players. As a result, the team selection took a lot of time and the selected players were unable to practice together before travelling to China.
“Big lesson from this tournament is – Don’t send us anywhere if we can’t get our best players to represent the country. Also, do not send us anywhere if you can provide time for us to work and prepare well. We were here exposed while representing India. We took it well and the Indian fans can be proud of these boys who came here unprepared and without having played a single training session together,” he told RevSportz.
A formidable Saudi Arabia didn’t bring their ‘A’ game to the fore yet were strong enough to ward off a gutsy challenge from India winning their pre-quarterfinal match 2-0 in the men’s football competition.
There was no doubt about Saudi Arabia’s supremacy as forward Mohammed Khalil Marran’s opportunistic twin strikes in the 51st and 57th minute ended Sunil Chhetri-led India’s campaign at the continental event.
However, Igor Stimac’s players can hold their heads high with the kind of performance that they put in despite so much uncertainty and with AIFF sending a second-string side due to the obstinate attitude from the Indian Super League (ISL) organisers who refused to release top players.
(With PTI inputs)
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