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World Cup 2022 qualifiers: India coach Igor Stimac unhappy with the first 45 minutes against Bangladesh

20:15 EAT 15/10/2019
Igor Stimac India
The Croatian explained the reasons as to why India failed to get a positive result against Bangladesh…

India picked their second point in the joint 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers as they eked out a 1-1 draw against Bangaldesh on Tuesday evening at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
The home side were coming into the game on the back of a 0-0 draw against Qatar and 2-1 defeat to Oman. The fans thronged to the stadium in numbers expecting India to clinch three points against Bangladesh, who are ranked 187 in the world – placed 83 spots below India.

Coach Igor Stimac pointed that India’s failure to convert the opportunities that fell their way was the primary reason they couldn’t win the tie. He also mentioned that conceding a ‘silly’ goal in the first half where there was a lack of communication between goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defender Rahul Bheke could have been avoided.

“I think the game was an exciting one. It was one which everyone could enjoy the beauty of it however, we couldn’t get a result in the end. We pushed right until the end, we created enough chances to win the game but our scoring wasn’t good enough. Their goalkeeper, who was in my opinion the man of the match, was a reason and our lack of capability for finishing chances was a reason we couldn’t win today.
“We knew Bangladesh would get a few chances because when you play so high up, you will face problems in the game. We faced that and we conceded a very silly goal. When you concede goals like that, you cannot expect to win the game. You could see that India is playing different football, we’re trying to play more technically but there’s still much work to do. We must stay confident and optimistic for the games coming ahead,” he explained.

India’s best chance in the opening 45 minutes came through Manvir Singh whose header from a Bheke throw-in hit the woodwork. India survived early in the game when Bheke’s foul in the very first minute could have handed Bangladesh a penalty which luckily for India, the referee didn’t spot.

Not just their failure to create chances in the first half, India’s passing was slow and sloppy.

“I’m not happy with the first 45 minutes. I told our players before the game that when you play against a team like Bangladesh, who will defend with at least nine players who are compact, our passing must be quicker from the back. For some reason, our defenders weren’t doing that when it came to passing quickly from the back. They kept the ball for a long time and that isn’t acceptable,” said Stimac.

The team looked much better in the second half as the Croatian’s half-time team talk paid dividends. He did point that the players need to improve on certain aspects which will help India in the long run.

“In the second half, we executed better passing from side-to-side and the channels started opening. However, we missed that aggressive touch when attacking the crosses. We must work on many more things to improve going forward. But looking how our players gave our hearts onto the pitch, all I can do is hug them and be supportive of them. They just need to keep working hard and the wins will come.”

On being asked as to what the next steps would be for the team in terms of their progress, Stimac responded by stating that every member has to watch the game and introspect. He also spoke on poor decision-making, an aspect in which Indian players have to improve on.

“Our learning process consists of analyzing the games after we play them. Each one of them needs to watch the game and must analyze their opinion come the next game. They will find out after watching that the decision making was poor. The legs weren’t sharp enough and we still don’t have the experience needed. You could see the talent they have and their potential. Let us be supportive to them. They are brilliant boys. I’m trying to teach them not to have a fear of making mistakes but at the same time, not to repeat their mistakes. I think they’ll be okay as they are improving with each game. 

“I think what we took from qualifiers is that these boys need some experience. Today we showed a third part of our quality by playing different football. Against Oman and Qatar we counter-attacking, but the tides turned today. When you look at everything together, you must be very positive. This team is rising up. I told my colleagues how good we could do with Udanta (Singh) and Ashique (Kuruniyan) as our full-backs. That’s fantastic.”

He reiterated that India shouldn’t have conceded the goal in the manner in which they did.

“When you play games like these, the opponents will have chances. Bangladesh did have a couple of chances. The goal we conceded is not acceptable if you’re looking to win the game. But on another note, we played good football and deserved to win the match. We showed plenty of courage and energy which I demand from the players. They gave me that and I’m happy for that.”

Stimac was full of praise for the assembled fans at the Salt Lake Stadium as they responded to his call to fill up the stadium in numbers.

“All the appreciation must be given to the crowd. This was an amazing day for Indian football. Many of these players won’t forget this atmosphere, this ambience and this support. I enjoyed today’s game and will remember it as one of the biggest games in my professional coaching career."