“Patience is the virtue of the strong.” The fans of the football team need to show more of it and back the team and the coach, who has just entered the Indian football scene from seven seas away with good success riding on his back, including creating top players. He definitely warrants time.
India has suffered 2 losses in 2 games in the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019 that has got the fans angered and disappointed in great proportion. Fans have started to call out the coach and certain players, who have not had a great time on the pitch playing the last 2 games against lower ranked teams- Tajikistan and Korea DPR. Defending champions India have now bowed out of the Hero Intercontinental Cup.
India started off brilliantly against Tajikistan, scoring 2 first-half goals, however, the defensive frailties were exposed in the second half as India went down 4-2. Against Korea DPR, India began on the back foot, conceding early goals and with the setup the team has, it was a given the team would concede on the counter and that’s exactly what happened as Korea DPR thumped India 5-2.
Losing two matches in as many players and by the margin that India has, there is definitely no qualms about the fans being disappointed, but calling out the coach this early might be an immature thought.
Igor Stimac, the Croatian master, was appointed the Indian coach back in May and headed with the team to Thailand for the King’s Cup in what was his first assignment. Though he gave a great presentation and had made a point of following India football and the players, his initial idea, which he was vocal about as well, was to form a core of 25-30 players, whom he would then put to test to filter out the best for him that could lead India’s charge for the World Cup qualification.
The testing began with the King’s Cup where India went on to win one game and lose the other. Stimac is using the Intercontinental Cup 2019 also as a platform to test out his players and the combinations given they won’t have an effect on India’s campaign in the World Cup qualifiers.
Stimac’s main worry in the defense and the center of midfield where he is trying to draft-in different players to see how well they do at their respective position and then would need to find the best combination where everyone can support each other.
The likes of Jhingan, Anas, Pritam, Jerry, Subasih, Mandar, Bheke, etc. are in the hunt for the defensive roles. As for the central midfield, there are the likes of Anirudh Thapa, Amarjit, Vinit Rai, Rowlin Borges, and a few others. The attacking department looks rather set with Chhetri leading the attack, well supported and backed by Sahal Abdul Samad, Udanta Singh, Lalrinzuala Chhangte, and maybe the likes of Jobby Justin and Brandon Fernandes.
It isn’t just the personnel that’s being put to test, but a new style of play that Stimac is trying to develop and then evolve as he realizes what best suits the set of players India have. It is a process and process takes time.
Indian football is at the crossroads with a lot of issues persistent over the existence of two leagues, their status, contribution, and the likes. This has had an overall impact on the game in the country and having a brand new coach with no knowledge of the country, the brand of football, the internal tussles, etc., doesn’t make life easy for him.
Stimac needs to be believed in for two simple reasons: 1) He has a good CV and has achievements to show for in the past in the form of Croatian National team and the clubs he has been associated with, and 2) The fact that he is now the coach and such quick changes don’t work.
Although it isn’t the happiest time and fans do want their team to win, irrespective of the restructuring happening, the Indian fans need to be a bit more patient in hope and belief of a better future. Of course, if results keep coming the way they have in the last 2 games, they would have every right to criticize the coach, the management and AIFF and demand change.
But for now, let’s #BackTheBlues