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Asian Games 2023: Coach Igor Stimac Blasts On Indian Football Team Preparation After Exit

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In a post-match interview following the Indian men’s football team’s exit from the Asian Games 2023, coach Igor Stimac unleashed a harsh critique of the team’s preparation and the obstacles they faced leading up to the tournament. The Indian team’s campaign came to an end after a 2-0 loss to Saudi Arabia in the round of 16 match at the Huanglong Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China.

The Indian team faced an uphill battle in the tournament, starting with a resounding 5-1 defeat to China in the opening match. However, they managed to bounce back with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Bangladesh and a 1-1 draw against Myanmar. These results secured India’s place in the pre-quarterfinals, finishing second in Pool A behind hosts China.

Saudi Arabia dominates

Indian football’s Asian Games journey took a disappointing turn when they faced a formidable Saudi Arabian squad in the round of 16. Despite the team’s best efforts, they were unable to find the back of the net, with Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Khalil Marran scoring both goals in the 51st and 57th minutes. This marked the end of India’s run at the continental event.

Igor Stimac’s Outspoken Critique

Igor Stimac, known for his straightforward approach, did not mince words when expressing his concerns about the team’s preparation and participation in the Asian Games. He emphasized that the Indian team had been left ill-prepared for the tournament due to a series of issues.

“Big lesson from this tournament is – Don’t send us anywhere if we can’t get our best players to represent the country. Also, do not send us anywhere if you can provide time for us to work and prepare well. We were here exposed while representing India. We took it well, and the Indian fans can be proud of these boys who came here unprepared and without having played a single training session together,” Stimac stated in frustration.

What are the challenges for the Indian football team? 

The challenges faced by the Indian team were multifaceted. There were doubts regarding India’s participation in the Asian Games due to disputes with clubs over the release of certain players. This dispute resulted in a protracted team selection process, leaving the selected players with no opportunity to practice together before travelling to China.

In a further blow to their preparations, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was forced to send a second-string squad due to the unyielding stance of Indian Super League (ISL) organisers, who refused to release top players for the tournament.

Also Read: QAT vs SAU Today Match Prediction, Match 4, Qatar vs Saudi Arabia, ICC Men’s T20 WC Asia Qualifier A, 29th September, 2023

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