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King's Cup 2019: India's Igor Stimac - Our decisions in the final third were not good

7:41 AM EDT 6/5/19
Igor Stimac
The new Indian coach was satisfied with his team's improved performance in the second half...

India head coach Igor Stimac was pleased with his team's second-half display in the 1-3 loss to Curacao in the 2019 King's Cup match on Wednesday at the Chang Arena in Thailand

Goals from Roly Bonevacia and Elson Hooi put Curacao ahead within the first 20 minutes before Sunil Chhetri scored from the spot to give India a glimmer of hope. However, Leandro Bacuna helped regain the two-goal cushion within the next two minutes.

"Congratulations to Curacao team. As I said yesterday (Tuesday), they are the favourites here and they showed today in the first 45 minutes that they are a different class," India head coach Igor Stimac said after the game.

"They have 6-7 top quality players. They know the moves. They were fit enough because their season just finished 10 days ago in their leagues in Europe. And that was our problem in the first half. "

India improved in the second half and although they failed to add to their goal tally, Sunil Chhetri and co. did manage to create chances and work the ball well in midfield, something that the newly-appointed head coach appreciated in his first game in charge. He praised the impact made by his half-time substitutes Amarjit Kiyam and Raynier Fernandes but noted that the team's decision-making left a lot to be desired. 

"Our team, we were like how the weather was. One half, the sun was shining. After we changed a few things at half-time, we started playing better. We were controlling possession much better. Especially closing the midfield down with their dangerous passes. That's what we got from two young players coming on from the bench.

"And I think (we had) 5-6 good situations in the second half to score the second goal and maybe come back and put some pressure on them in the last 10 minutes. But our decisions in the final third were not good. When were supposed to shoot, we were passing (and vice versa). There is a long way for us to keep learning.

"The learning process will be long so we are going to another phase now in two week's time, getting together once again and preparing for the intercontinental cup. I hope all the players who we miss here, and there are 5-6 players who are very important for the Indian national team, will be with us fit and we are going to look much different."

"I am very proud of the achievements, especially what we showed in the second half. Especially with the younger players who have shown great character, they have no fear coming on the pitch. This is what I like, we have a good future. 

"Positive for us was the second half, (where we had) two substitutions - 18-year-old Amarjit and 22-year-old Raynier Fernandes who gave us good passing and movement. Without the ball, they were covering well in front of their big striker. We never surrendered, we kept playing. We kept playing football with the discipline which I asked them to do. That was very positive," he concluded.