Updated: March 19, 2021 7:45:52 am
India head coach Igor Stimac said on Thursday that the selection for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers was done considering the players’ recent ISL form, past national team performances, and overall experience.
Talking to AIFF TV, the 53-year-old explained his decision-making process for squad-selection, stating that it was based on a “conglomeration” of different criteria.
“A conglomeration of different factors… most of the players made it to the squad on merit. But there are a few who have also proved themselves on the international stage. A few poor performances should not erase them from the squad,” said Stimac.
“It’s a long process, and we are preparing to play and win against the best,” he continued. “We are trying to build on the U-17s and develop their knowledge. Football promotion has grown leaps and bounds in India. Soon, football will take over as the number one sport here.”
🗣️ @stimac_igor: “Overall, football is growing in waves in India, which is amazing — right from the Golden Baby Leagues and upward. Football will take over soon in India as the number one sport”#BackTheBlue 💙 #IndianFootball ⚽ #BlueTigers 🐯 #IndianFootballForwardTogether 💪 pic.twitter.com/VGAw2nnpyo
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) March 18, 2021
Apart from the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, India have two more international friendlies scheduled against Oman on March 25 and the UAE on March 29. Stimac also shed light on his philosophy of playing the best teams in order to improve.
“As part of our footballing philosophy, we do not look for easy opponents. We can improve only by playing against better sides,” he said. “We need to come to the pitch without any fear, we need to try to make our transitions properly, and we need to try and enjoy the possession that we have. That’s what I want to ask of my players.”
India will be without their talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri for the upcoming assignments because of a positive COVID-19 for the Bengaluru FC striker.
“There are not many players at that age, playing at such a high level. When you watch Sunil this season, you can see that he has improved, even though Bengaluru FC did not play as well. His individual numbers show that,” said Stimac.
“It is important for youngsters to develop that knowledge when they are with him. I hope he stays motivated, because there’s still space left to improve, and there’s a lot left in him.”
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