The Indian national team gaffer has acknowledged their Afghan counterparts’ confidence on the ball…
India take on Afghanistan in the final Group E game in the second round 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday.
The Blue Tigers’ 2-0 win over Bangladesh on June 7 means that a draw against Afghanistan will be enough for India to progress to the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers. However, head coach Igor Stimac has shrugged off suggestions that his men will play for a point.
What Igor Stimac said?
“I need to say that I don’t know any coach or any team who would come out playing for a draw. Even that might seem to be a situation when you are facing much better sides. Then, you need to drop and defend for your life and wait for one, two or three chances to counter-attack like against Qatar. But, we are not going out to play for a draw. Rather, we will go out to win it,” he said.
“As a coach, I have tried to prepare our team in the best possible way – to keep them motivated. Wearing the national team jersey is the biggest motivation for any player, and it comes with a huge responsibility. You know how big a population is backing us, and whoever is wearing the Indian shirt has that unique chance to make the 1.4 billion people proud.”
‘We cannot take Afghanistan lightly’
India are currently placed third in the group with six points from seven matches. If the Blue Tigers lose to Afghanistan they will be relegated to the fourth position. The return leg meeting had ended in a 1-1 draw.
“Afghanistan are full of players with international experience, and most of the players are playing in foreign leagues. You can recognise it when you gauge their confidence on the ball. But at the same time, we see our chance and need to go out on the pitch and play good football and to make sure we finish this tournament on a winning note,” the Croatian expressed.