Saturday, July 13, 2024

Game Against China Will Decide Winner Of The Group: India Coach Igor Stimac On Asian Games Draw

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File photo of Indian football team coach Igor Stimac© Twitter

Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac has high expectations from the Blue Tigers in the Asian Games 2023 and the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers after the draw of both competitions took place on Thursday, saying that the game against hosts China in the continental event will be a competitive one for the youngsters and will decide the winner of the group and added that facing Qatar for their path to 2026 WC will be a “big task”. Asian Games will start in September 2023 and India are placed alongside hosts China, Bangladesh and Myanmar in Group A of the football event. India previously featured in the Asian Games during the 2014 edition. They clinched Gold in 1951 and 1962 at the event besides winning bronze during the 1970 edition, as per an Indian Super League (ISL) press release.

Talking about the draw, Stimac said: “The game against the host team China, is going to be a very competitive game for our youngsters and I expect that this game decides the winner of the group. With all due respect to Bangladesh and Myanmar, which are similar to us having many, many youngsters in their senior national team already, we need to outplay them on the pitch. Clearly, as that. So I expect us to win the first position in the group against China and I expect our youngsters to do a brilliant job for India.”

In the FIFA World Cup 2026 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round Two, India have been paired in Group A against Qatar, Kuwait, and winners of the Round 1 match between Afghanistan and Mongolia.

A total of 36 sides are set to compete in Round Two of the Qualifiers across nine groups with the top two from each group advancing to the Third Round. Stimac made it clear that India should have a minimum expectation of finishing second in their group during the World Cup Qualifiers, which will take place from November 2023.

“(The FIFA) World Cup qualifier draw 2026 was not kind of lucky for us. Having Qatar, one of the best Asian teams in our group is going to be a big task, but we proved not long ago that we can find a way playing against such teams. And then, having Kuwait by far the best team from Pot 3 and Afghanistan or Mongolia, which we faced in the near past.. once again, we need to state very clearly.. the second position in the group needs to be ours. We need to do everything to prepare well to get enough time from all the stakeholders in Indian football for a good preparation and make sure that India goes through to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.”

“I am very happy as a coach. I am looking forward to a brighter future for Indian football. Let us work together. Let us stay united for the sake of Indian football’s future and with God’s blessings,” he signed off.

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