Igor Stimac: Everyone, including Sunil Chhetri, needs to fight for a place

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Stimac made it clear that all players are on the same pedestal and everyone must fight for their place...

Igor Stimac, the newly-appointed head coach of India national team, is setting high standards for his players ahead of his first assignment in Thailand next month.

The Croat has been conducting a training camp for the national team probables in New Delhi in preparation for the King's Cup in Thailand and has promised a clean slate for every player, including India's all-time highest goalscorer Sunil Chhetri.

"We speak every day. I speak with all our players every day. That's my approach. I need to do that. I need to get information from them," he said in a media briefing in the city. 

"Of course, Sunil (Chhetri) is very valuable to our team. He is a role model to these young players who are knocking on the door. He has played so many games, he is so experienced, and has scored so many goals. But as well as others, he needs to fight for a place in the team.

Sunil Chhetri India Bahrain Asian Cup 2019

"We all start from zero. Football is like that. You don't get anything for the past. You get paid for today's job. As successful you are today, tomorrow you get your chance once again."

He went on to reveal that he was mighty impressed with the attitude of all the playes in the camp, especially the senior figures.

"I expect not only from Sunil, from Gurpreet (Singh Sandhu), from (Sandesh) Jhingan as well to be a role model to young players in a positive way. And not in a negative way because they are the ones who are looked at (by upcoming talents). Young players always look at what Sunil is doing, what Jhingan is doing. So I'm quite happy with their behaviour until now and I strongly believe that we will work together as much as he (Sunil) did before," said Stimac.

The new coach has done a fair bit of research on his players and termed the country as a 'sleeping giant' when it comes to football. "I have not been here for not more than a week but it feels that I have been here for five years already. I have read so much about Indian culture, Indian football and the leagues and the fact that I know all the players by their name is a good thing for the first few days. 

"I am overwhelmed by the chance that the Technical Committee has given me. I see India as a sleeping giant in football and I see many opportunities for youngsters that are coming up the ranks. As I have been involved in developing players in Croatia, I see this as a great chance to help the AIFF in organising and developing young talents who are coming up."

He has also taken note of the upcoming talents in the country and has also familiarised himself with the Indian Arrows project.

"I watched nearly all the matches from the last season from the ISL. I have been informed about the most of the players from the Indian Arrows and the successful 2017 India U-17 World Cup team. I have also been informed about some of the young players who are not playing so much but they show great capacity.

"I recognise from my research as well, five-to-six players who didn't take part under Mr. Stephen Constantine but I think that they deserved to get a chance. I am not going to go why that didn't happen but I am here to give them the chance to prove themselves by training with me," he added.

The Croatian will prune his squad to 23 before the national team leaves for Thailand to participate in the King's Cup.