Igor Stimac: Indian players need to improve their concentration

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The Croatian also felt that qualifying for the World Cup should always be the ambition for Indian football...

A few days into his first camp with the players, India head coach Igor Stimac has already identified one of the major issues that has been plaguing the national team.

The Croatian feels that India needs to  improve their concentration levels to ensure they do not commit mistakes for the entirety of a match. Stimac was speaking to the media from New Delhi, where he is currently holding a preparation camp ahead of the King's Cup in Thailand next month.

"I can tell you, from the research that I have done, I can see sometimes a lack of concentration during the games. There is a lack of tactical movement and knowledge and reaction on the second ball which is probably the most important ball in football today. We were not good at it. We need to say that. They were conceding goals due to lack of concentration too many times. What is the reason, I don't know," he revealed.

However, he was quick to add that the team will work hard to improve that aspect of the game.

"Winning the second ball will be very important for us. To do that, we need to have concentrated players in the middle of the pitch. You need to have quick players with great agility and capacity. Of course, the heart is very important. We need to have tigers and lions there together. So we are going to work on that."

Stimac was a World Cup bronze medal winner with Croatia back in 1998 where he was an integral part of the defence, alongside Slaven Bilic. He did admit that India lack options in central defence which is an important area.

"We all know that we have some problems in defence. We don't have enough competitors for the defensive positions, especially at centre back. And we need to work on that. I need to find a way to cover those positions with more competitors, with more players who will be there competing for a place in the team. That's at the moment the first problem that I am facing because all good results start with good defending."

There have been vocal criticism towards the more pragmatic style of play Stimac's predecessor, Stephen Constantine, had employed during his successful four-year stint. Stimac went on to state that Constantine only made the best use of the resources available to him. However, Stimac pointed out that he was looking to mould a team that would be able to adapt their playing style according to situations.

India National Team practice game

"I have seen the way Mr. Constantine played. But his football was more adaptive to the type of players he had. That was the most effective way to play with those players.

"I would do my best to have more options. We have to see how we can transform from one option to other option. We cannot sit back and defend when we are a goal down. You need to transform into another system. We will be working on that.

"I will not promise you that good things will happen overnight. I see many talented players and they are ready to learn," he said.

The 51-year-old coach also felt that qualifying for the World Cup should always be India's aim, even if it is a bit unlikely as of now. He also explained that teamwork among all stakeholders was necessary towards making that dream a reality.

"Nobody can stop us dreaming about the World Cup. We are allowed to do so as long as our dream and belief get stronger. Apart from that, hard work and willingness to learn are the main things.

"Of course, there are problems with the leagues (ISL and I-League). But everything can be solved through communication. My job is not only to select players for the national and U23 team. I have discussed with Mr. Kushal Das (General Secretary, AIFF) that we need to visit the clubs and the managers. We must exchange ideas on improving football."