We need to be confident, positive and realistic, says Stimac ahead of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

 - Sakshi Post

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) As the anticipation of playing two matches against Kuwait and Qatar in the FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifier matches is exciting, head coach Igor Stimac said once the players, who are missing now, are back, the team will show strength on the pitch, no matter who they play against.

India are set to face Kuwait in their opening Group A fixture at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on November 16 before returning home to take on Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar in November.

Sharing his views on the upcoming showdown and the preparations, Stimac said, as quoted by AIFF.com: "We have entered the new phase of our work, and we know it's going to be very hard and difficult on the boys. We are very optimistic about what's ahead of us. We know that the next few months until March will be very difficult. We might face some problems during this process.

"But we are very optimistic then that once the players, who are missing now, are back, we will become solid again and show strength on the pitch, no matter who we play against. So, the focus at the moment is how to replace those boys who were starting 11 players, such as Ashique Kuruniyan, Anwar Ali and Jeakson Singh (Currently nursing injuries). They were our strength in the latest successes we had. These boys played very good football; they were adding extra value to the whole team.

He further said that focus on team balance for a stronger defense, assessing and adjusting the composition to shore up the backline and reducing goals conceded is his priority.

"We need to find a way to make a new composition to balance the team which will provide strength, especially at the back because we started conceding some goals, which I did not like lately, although some of the goals came after very poor refereeing decisions. That's our priority now, but anyway, I'm glad to see that the boys are playing regularly in ISL and most of them are taking main roles in their teams and playing with lots of responsibility. It is a good and positive thing for the national team," Stimac said.

India will travel to Dubai on November 8 for a preparatory camp before the qualifiers.

Speaking about getting the squad together for a few days before the first game and how much will that help in getting the boys back to the desired level, the head coach said: "We started planning this camp a long time ago and we're going to have four to five days to execute some training sessions and drills and prepare well for the first game against Kuwait which is important because it's the opening game. We are quite clear about what needs to be done.

"It's going to be a very difficult and different game, so the boys need to adapt to that as soon as possible. And we are not going to have much time to do so, only one training session prior to the match day. So, difficulties and challenges will be there, but once again, we know what we can bring to the pitch, we know how to handle the situation. All we need to do is stay focused and well-concentrated on the task we're going to put to the players."

When asked about how he will handle the situation in terms of psychology, before going into such a match against Kuwait, Stimac said: "The boys are coming from a different pace of football. So, we're not gonna lie to ourselves and expect top quality football we're going to present there. Our focus is on the result and how to obtain the result in the opening game of the World Cup qualifiers."

"My advice for players will be to forget as soon as possible what happened in June and July against Kuwait and to concentrate on new challenges and new developments that might be ahead of us. And that's the best way of approaching this game," he added.

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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