India Coach Igor Stimac Calls Upcoming Match Against Kuwait “Career Changing” For His Team


Indian football team coach Igor Stimac on Sunday said the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait could “change the careers” of his players and described it as a “huge game”. India will take on Kuwait at the Salt Lake Stadium in their penultimate second-round game, which will be followed by the away match against Qatar on June 11. Despite their shocking loss to lower-ranked Afghanistan in the home leg match in Guwahati in March, India can still make a maiden entry into the third round of qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.

“It’s a huge game. The careers of the boys can change with this game. I want them to enjoy and do their best in the game,” Stimac told the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

India, who slipped to 121 in the FIFA rankings after gaining just a solitary point in their two meetings with Afghanistan in March, will look to put up a much better display against Kuwait in what will also be talisman Sunil Chhetri’s farewell from international football.

“For such an important game, we need to do a few things; in regards to strength conditioning, in regards to understanding what it needs, in regards to how important this game is, and in regards to mental strength and self-confidence.

“So, we work on all aspects needed for our boys to be on top of their form in this game.” The head coach added: “There are two key points for the preparations for this game. First, winning the game is crucial. And to reach that target, we need to be very clever. We need to understand that in the game, we require patience.

“If we don’t open the scoring in the first half an hour, we need to be intelligent and play quality football together with pace. All these aspects are very important and we have to prepare for them.” The Blue Tigers are winless in six matches and have scored just a goal in these games.

In the last one year, India met Kuwait three times. It includes the victory in a tiebreaker in the SAFF Championship final in Bangalore.

“Each of those matches was very tough and I can clearly state that we controlled all those games in superb ways,” Stimac said.

“We dominated for the bigger parts in each one of these games. We were above them physically. But on other occasions, before the Kuwait games, we had many games that helped us reach that level.

“But it is a different game now because they are coming here when we didn’t have the opportunity to play games. No league is being played now, no club is available. But we did play two games between us to reach the intensity we required.

“And I need to tell you that the boys were superb in those two games. I am very happy with them; happy with everything that was done in the last three weeks,” the coach added.

Asked if he was missing anything that could have added value to the side, Stimac said, “I don’t have the right to think about it. We have to focus on what we have. What we can do and what can be improved.

“In the final week, we are concentrating on set pieces, offensive tactics, and a few details regarding the shape, team composure, and speed of passing. That’s all.” PTI AH AH TAP

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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