DOHA, Sept 11: He is “more than happy” with the solitary point that the Indian football team snatched by drawing against Asian champions Qatar but coach Igor Stimac says he has told the players to stay grounded as they can’t afford complacency during FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
India head coach Igor Stimac reacts during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 preliminary joint qualification Group E match against Qatar.
The former Croatian international wants the Indian players to stay focused and garner more points in their upcoming matches. India put up a gritty performance against Qatar to seal a goalless draw in a FIFA World Cup Round 2 qualifying match here on Tuesday night.
“As a coach, I don’t have time to waste in thinking too much higher than it was a few days ago when we lost to Oman. Still today as a coach, of course, I am more than happy to get a point against the reigning champions of Asia,” Stimac said at the post-match press conference here.
“We need to improve in certain areas, on the other hand, all congratulations not just to my players but also for Qatar. There was excitement in front of both goals, of course.”
“It was a great experience for us. All credit to my players, I am very proud of my players. But the message to the team is to keep yourself down as it is just a point,” he added.
Despite playing without their talismanic captain and striker Sunil Chhetri, who was laid low by fever, the Indians denied Qatar, who won the Asian Cup title in January, although the home side managed more than a dozen shots on target.
“Qatar deserved more from this game. They created more chances today but we also had many chances,” Stimac said.
Stimac also took a potshot at those who criticised his team’s fitness levels after India lost 1-2 to Oman in their campaign-opener, with both Oman goals coming in the final eight minutes.
The coach asserted that fitness was never a problem for his side.
“You see, I cannot reply to each comment after a game because not many people are well educated about football. We are a fit team and we proved it today. – PTI