Buriram (Thailand), Jun 7: It was in the first match of the year that the Blue Tigers opened their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign with a stunning 4-1 win against Thailand. Five months later, the two sides head-to-head again against each other in the King's Cup third-place play-off at the Chang Arena on Saturday.
At the official pre-match press conference, Indian senior national team head coach Igor Stimac made clear his intentions of continuing from where his team left off against Curacao -- where they put on a commendable second-half display against a vastly experienced side.
"We want to try a different approach and structure to the one that was played in earlier times. Despite us losing our previous match, fans were happy with the style of play against a strong team like Curacao. Our intention shall remain the same against Thailand," he declared.
The coach said he plans to give chances to the players who did not feature against Curacao. "I treat all players the same, and all of them have been working hard since we got together. I want to see everyone on the pitch, and each of them deserves a chance to prove themselves. Tomorrow, I shall give chances to other players as well so that we have harder selection decisions to make in the future," he expressed.
"I have told my players that we are going to continue to follow our way of work. We are still in the early stages and there is no fear of getting results at this time. It's important for us to be free of injury concerns so that we can continue our preparation ahead of the Hero Intercontinental Cup in India. I'm sure other coaches will agree -- everyone wants to win, but no one wants to have headaches after the game."
Centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, who played a pivotal role in India's previous win against Thailand in January mentioned that while the 4-1 victory was great, the upcoming encounter will be a different ball game altogether.
"It was a great result for us in the AFC Asian Cup but now things have changed on both sides. This game is a different one. We shall step on to the pitch tomorrow with the right character, and determination, and play according to our plan. Hopefully we get the right result," the defender quipped.
Meanwhile, Stimac touched upon the positives the team drew from the Curacao match, including the fact that six players made their debut in the game. "We had six players make their debuts for India on Wednesday which is fantastic for Indian football. The introduction of youngsters is important, and they are our real strength,” he stated.
"I want to awaken the hearts of Indian people, and want my team to play in a manner the fans can enjoy. Results may suffer at the start but what is important is that we have a positive environment."
Amarjit Singh Kiyam, who was among the six debutants against Curacao, added the "team will have to be at its hundred percent" against the hosts.”
“We defeated Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup. However, we cannot take things for granted, and will continue putting in the hard yards. They are the hosts and will have good home support. So we have to be at our hundred percent."
Thailand's Supachai Chaided who had played in the Asian Cup match against India in UAE stated that he hopes his team “will make home advantage count.”
"India are still a strong team, and it is extremely important for us to play with full concentration. This time, we will have the home advantage, and we hope to make use of it to get the right result."