Indian soccer workforce will face reigning Asian champions Qatar in FIFA World Cup 2026 Spherical 2 at dwelling on Tuesday.
Is it their second of reckoning?
If Qatar is the benchmark to comply with for India, then the Blue Tigers have already secured a well-known 0-0 draw towards the 2022 World Cup hosts in 2019. On the very begin of coach Igor Stimac’s tenure in 2019, India turned the one Asian workforce that yr to take some extent off Qatar, the aspect that defeated mighty Japan 3-1 within the 2019 Asian Cup last.
Indian soccer workforce coach Igor Stimac says subsequent few months ‘very troublesome’ with out key gamers
FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC Qualifiers: India have ‘nothing to lose’ towards Qatar, says coach Igor Stimac
Nonetheless, that odds-defying outcome was met with two disappointing attracts towards Bangladesh and Afghanistan that denied India an opportunity to achieve Spherical 3 of the Qualifiers.
On Tuesday, when India meet Qatar, it is not going to be a lot about what occurs on this match, though the stature of the opponent and the craving to see Sunil Chhetri and Co do effectively towards the perfect sides would have us fixated on the outcome, the actual take a look at might be how constant the workforce stays over the qualifiers.
Consistency is essential
In that respect, India have made exceptional progress in 2023. Unbeaten at dwelling, Stimac’s males defeated sides like Lebanon and Kuwait back-to-back for the primary time earlier this yr.
After which got here the 1-0 away win towards Kuwait within the qualifiers — the primary one in 22 years.
“While you play high-level video games consecutively with out shedding, going through Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait 3 times, Lebanon twice, Iraq and also you don’t lose matches and hold clear sheets, it’s fairly evident that you’re constant,” India coach Stimac mentioned on the eve of the Qatar recreation in Bhubaneswar the place the Kalinga Stadium is all decked up.
What hampered India’s probabilities towards Bangladesh and Afghanistan have been accidents to key gamers like Sandesh Jhingan, Brandon Fernandes and Rowllin Borges. A notable distinction from that point in these 4 years beneath Stimac is the rising pool of gamers and lack of dependability on sure people.
The Kuwait win just some days again was earned within the absence of regulars Anwar Ali, Jeakson Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan.
“At the moment, a number of key gamers have been lacking who have been at the moment essential to us. Now, as you may see, with so many probabilities supplied to younger boys, who appeared final season in ISL…we’re the place we’re. We’ve choices if anybody will get injured. We’ve gamers who have already got sure expertise enjoying for the nationwide workforce at the next degree. Having that feeling, what’s the distinction enjoying in ISL and on the worldwide degree. And that’s actually treasured for us,” the Croatian tactician added.
Keep hungry, keep grounded
With Kuwait and Afghanistan the opposite groups within the World Cup qualifying group, India are hoping to achieve the third spherical for the primary time in historical past. Whereas 61st-ranked Qatar are 41 spots forward of 102nd positioned India within the FIFA rankings, Kuwait (136) and Afghanistan (154) are effectively behind the Blue Tigers.
There’s an actual likelihood for certain. However it’s vital India keep constant and extra considerably hungry and grounded and never get complacent or distracted amid a newfound respect for Workforce India in Asian circles.
After Kuwait and Lebanon head coaches, Qatar supervisor Carlos Queiroz was the newest to wax lyrical concerning the Stimac and his boys.
“India as soon as had a bunch of fine gamers. Now, I see a workforce,” the previous Manchester United assistant coach mentioned on the eve of the sport.
With such uncommon effusive reward coming India’s approach from totally different corners and from reputed opponents, there’s a hazard of getting carried away. Ultimately, Indian soccer shouldn’t overlook the truth. Issues might have been rosy in their very own proper in the previous couple of months, however the workforce nonetheless stands within the decrease rungs.
To maintain his squad grounded, of which 10 members are beneath 25 years outdated, stays Stimac’s main problem. And he’s effectively conscious of that.
“A serious a part of our workforce is youthful individuals. And generally younger individuals get carried away. The coach’s job is to show them to get again on the observe,” Stimac defined. And there are totally different components of the way you do this. However the coach’s job is to not get rid of individuals. I, as a coach, by no means did that. I by no means gave up on any of my gamers. I’m right here to make them conscious if some issues are going mistaken, that they’re going mistaken.
“To inform them what must be modified or carried out to make it proper and to assist them bounce again. I’ll use…at all times all components and devices out there and instruments to assist my gamers develop into higher human beings, develop into higher gamers, to allow them to affect others inside the environment to assist the workforce.
“That’s why we’ve got been profitable up to now two years. That’s why these guys are getting reward from everybody now. However they’re the identical individuals they have been 4 years in the past, 5 years in the past, you see.”
In what’s being seen as a transformative yr in Indian soccer, the senior nationwide workforce’s potential to remain grounded and constant on the large stage may have a telling influence, as a result of, it’s simpler to achieve to the large stage, however troublesome to remain there.
Match particulars and stay streaming: India play Qatar on 21 November 2023 on the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The 7 PM IST match might be broadcast on Sports18, Sports18 1 and Sports18 3 and stay streamed on JioCinema.
- Indian soccer workforce’s subsequent goal: Be constant and grounded
- Verify all information and articles from the newest Sport updates.
- Please Subscribe us at Google News.