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No Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan for China match: Igor Stimac

India might not field Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan vs China and focus on the games against Bangladesh and Myanmar to make it out of the group stage at the 2023 Asian Games, says Igor Stimac.

No Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan for China match: Igor Stimac

Igor Stimac


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 17 Sep 2023 10:29 AM GMT

The Indian men's football team will look to prioritise the matches against Bangladesh and Myanmar to make it out of the group stages at the 2023 Asian Games and rest some key players against China, said head coach Igor Stimac on Sunday.

"I am not thinking about the China game, don't be surprised if Sandesh Jhingan and Sunil Chhetri are left out in the first game. I'm thinking of Bangladesh and Myanmar. This Chinese team has been playing together for some time. They will play in a 4-4-2 formation and they have a tower of a striker, they will be a very very tough opposition. They have invested a lot in this team, we need to consider if we want to invest our full energy into this game or skip it," Stimac said at a press meet before departing for Hangzhou on Sunday.

Unimpressed with the lack of time he has been afforded with the Asian Games team, Stimac said he will instruct the players on the flights and at the airports as there will not be a single training session the team can have before the first match against China on Tuesday. They then play Bangladesh on Thursday and Myanmar on Sunday.

"From a point of asking for a training camp it has come to a point where we need to be happy with just getting the players before kick-off. Its a disservice to the national team. The things I was asking for, I wasn't asking for myself," Stimac said.

READ | India Football at Asian Games 2023: Full team, Schedule, Medal chances

On the final list of players provided to him, Stimac said there were some obvious weaknesses in the central midfield and full back departments. He said Amarjit Singh and Ayush Chhetri are the only two central midfielders he can use, while some wingers will have to slot in as full backs.

"We can get out of the group but we also need some luck and the boys need to play their best football. It's not a question of difference in quality between different Indian players, it's a question of how much time a set of players are allowed to be brought into a coach's philosophy," the coach said.

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