New Delhi, Nov 21: Indian football head coach Igor Stimac on Thursday expressed disappointment over the team's performance in the last few matches and said injury to key players was the main reason behind the country going out of reckoning of a World Cup berth.
While speaking at the sidelines of the launch of the 13th edition of the I-League, Stimac said, "We came back home a bit disappointed after the last two matches but that did not diminish our faith and belief in our team.''
Losing the key players like Sandesh Jhingan, Rowlin Borges and Amarjit Singh, Pranoy Halder due to injury was the most difficult issue we faced and it also affected the results badly,'' he added. The Indian team is virtually knocked out of 2022 World Cup qualifiers after losing 0-1 to Oman in Muscat on Tuesday. They have not won a single match out of the five played so far in this second round of the qualifiers and have now only three points from five matches and are at fourth spot in the Group E table.
However, Stimac compared the current campaign to the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and said that the side under his coaching has done better than the earlier one under Englishman Stephen Constantine. "In the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the team lost five matches on the trot and had zero points after five matches.
Now we have two defeats and three draws and three points," the Croatian said. Talking about the future plan of the team, Stimac further said, "We have three more matches to play and now we are on our way to compete in 2023 Asian Cup and will do better than before once we are there.
When asked about the lack of goals from his players in the ongoing World Cup qualifying campaign, Indian coach said that players are not going to score goals in the international level until and unless they play as a striker in the domestic league and score goals. Stimac also urged fans and supporters to have patience in the team and termed his team as a new brave team who has learned to fight in international matches too. He mentioned that the fitness of the team is good and it plays with the same stamina for the entire 90 minutes.
Stressing on the importance of the I-League, Stimac termed it as an opportunity for young players to perform well and grab the chance to represent Indian national team.
''I want to tell the I-League players that they should not consider themselves neglected because they are the future of Indian football. Those who have passports are potential contenders to represent the Indian senior team but it depends on these players how well they are able to perform for their clubs,'' the coach concluded by saying. (UNI)