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'Fullback positions wide open in national team': Head coach Igor Stimac

National team head coach Igor Stimac addressed the importance of squad depth ahead of the upcoming Intercontinental Cup.

Fullback positions wide open in national team: Head coach Igor Stimac

Coach Igor Stimac training with players ahead of the friendlies. (AIFF)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 3 Jun 2023 3:34 PM GMT

With Intercontinental Cup in sight, the Indian football team's head coach Igor Stimac emphasized the importance of squad rotation along with strengthening the key areas in a press conference on Saturday.

"With such heat and humidity, it's impossible to expect that we're going to play the same 11 players in each game. So that's why we have 26 players here with us," stated Coach Stimac. He emphasized the importance of squad depth and having replacements available in case of injuries during matches or training sessions. The coach also expressed his intention to rotate players between games to keep the squad fresh and energized.

Coach Stimac welcomed the competition for each position and highlighted the need for more physical and mental strength in the fullback positions.

"We are looking to strengthen each position on the team, and the competition for each position on the team is most welcome," he said stressing the importance of defensive capabilities.

Further, the coach explained that the jury is still out on the matter of the fullback positions, how the current players, while offensively astute, need to address defensive vulnerabilities, particularly in closing down gaps and preventing crosses into the box.

"I would say that fullback positions are widely open. We need more strength, physical and mental, on these positions and more understanding in how to defend than how to attack because we have many good offensive players playing in the positions, but defending is the problem for them," Coach Stimac explained.

Regarding the team's composition, Igor Stimac mentioned, "We do have 20 players on the field. So two on each position."

He also mentioned the presence of three goalkeepers competing for the starting spot, along with three additional players on the reserve list.

The coach highlighted the strong competition among the players, taking into account the absence of seven players who were not part of the camp due to injuries or personal requests.

Clarifying his player selection, Stimac said, "I'm not selecting players only based on the actual form in their respective clubs. Because I do know what certain players can do for us, and also I cannot speak about what their coaches were doing with them in their clubs, because some of their poor performances might be their fault. So Sahal and Udanta have enough capability to hurt any team in Asia. I trust them and I can bring them back to their best."

Coach Stimac stressed that every player needs to continually improve and fight for their position in the national team when asked about Sana Singh, "Every player needs to be worried about his future in the national team. It's no different with Sana. They need to keep upgrading their fitness level, strength, speed everything. Sana is one of the six or seven center-backs amongst the shortlist of center-backs we are considering for the national team and he needs to fight for his position".

He highlighted Anwar Ali as another promising option, acknowledging his ongoing improvement and potential to represent India in prominent foreign clubs.

With the Intercontinental Cup on the horizon, Coach Stimac's insights provided a glimpse into the team's objectives and determination to make a significant impact. The Team aims to address its defensive vulnerabilities, strengthen each position, and harness the potential of its talented players.

India will feature in Intercontinental Cup along with Lebanon, Vanuatu, and Mongolia from the 9th to the 18th of June in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.

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