The Croatian felt that India had a better 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign than FC Goa in the AFC Champions League
Igor Stimac is pleased with the Indian national team’s run in the second round 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers. Despite failing to make progress in the World Cup qualifiers, India secured a direct spot in the Asian Cup third round qualifiers.
The Blue Tigers ended their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign with four draws, three losses and one win from their eight matches. They scored six goals and conceded only seven.
However, with regard to the impression created by India’s qualifiers, the Croat felt that his side were at the wrong end of criticism.
What Igor Stimac had to say?
“Somehow we managed to finish in the second round of the (World Cup) qualifiers in third position which was our target. Now we need to prove ourselves in the third round with more quality in the passing football, especially in the final third. How to herd the opponent in the final third comes from the way you play in the domestic league,” he said.
While admitting of demands of the fans, the former Croatia national team coach explained the process that goes into getting to that level – something he feels the domestic top flight in the Indian Super League (ISL) currently fails to offer.
“The fans always want more. We agreed upon changing the course by playing higher ranked teams in friendly games, giving opportunities for our players to face real difficulties because ISL is not bringing pressure. Don’t get me wrong but there is no relegation. It’s far different from playing top level international football in the qualifiers against sides like Qatar, Oman, UAE, Syria and others who are much higher ranked. What is the actual form of these teams is also important,” Stimac pointed.
India at 2022 WCQ vs FC Goa at 2021 ACL
The Blue Tigers had a ball possession of a little over 50 percent in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, with an average of 7.8 shots at goal ahead of the 1-1 draw against Afghanistan. Further more, giving reference of FC Goa’s maiden AFC Champions League (ACL) appearance, the 53-year-old claimed that his men have had a better qualification run than how the Gaurs fared in Asia’s top most club competition.
FC Goa finished with three points in six matches, courtesy three draws against stronger West Asian clubs.
“Not very long ago we were excited about FC Goa in the (Asian) Champions League. They made us proud. They are one of the sides with more ball possession in ISL. But (in ACL) it was around 30 per cent and an average of six shots.
“Still, they used four foreign players and I have none and we are still better in the qualifiers with the numbers than Goa had in the (Asian) Champions League. But the impression was different. So we need to show more patience in our players. We need to show more trust,” the India coach stated.
Mourinho and Klopp would fail in India?
Stimac went on to defend himself by taking the name of two of the biggest coaches in world football in Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp and stated even they couldn’t do a better job than himself in India.
“I could be fired but not even (Pep) Guardiola or (Jose) Mourinho could do more in these circumstances.”