Sunil Chhetri had positive words for ‘brave’ coach Igor Stimac three games into his stint with the Indian National team.
The Croatian manager earned the plaudits of the Indian skipper who described him as brave and helpful. Chhetri explained that Stimac is very approachable and spends a lot of time with his players individually and is generally a fair boss.
“Technically he is very knowledgeable, someone who understands modern football. He is someone who works really hard and is really helpful to all the players. Doesn’t matter if it’s me or the youngest member. The best part about him that I like is that he is very brave. He is someone who wants to see everyone, wants to be fair, which is not very common. This is different.
“He is very brave and backs everyone up. He spends a lot of time on individual players also. That is nice. Generally, when coaches, they do interact with the senior players, they are always in the mix, but if you ask all the young ones in this camp, they all feel involved. Everyone knows if they train well, they will get their chance,” he said.
The 34-year-old also spoke about the ideal playing style the team needs to adopt. He believes that the coach’s thoughts are in line with what he has in mind and what is being displayed by most Indian Super League (ISL) teams.
“I think if you ask me, the best one (formation) would be the same way as to what the league plays. In that way, you will get more probability of success. In our league if you see, a lot of teams pass the ball and play from the back, in that sense, it makes sense that he also wants to do the same thing.
“It doesn’t mean that he wants to play kamikaze where no matter what we pass around from behind when there are times we have to lump the ball and be safe, we will do that. He emphasises on a lot of movements, a lot of people asking for the ball. Eventually, if it helps our country or not, time will tell. I am enjoying it. We players are as good as what the coach wants. The more we are in sync with what the coach wants, the better for us.”
India have had problems in the striking department but Chhetri believes that the youngsters should not lose faith in themselves.
“Scoring is a very important part and I would love for my country to have more goalscorers, they are trying really hard, they are young and they will come up. Sunil Chhetri wasn’t made in a day or a tournament, I didn’t end up scoring 70 goals (in a short time), it takes time and do I see hope? Of course. We have to keep the faith. Let’s not compare them with me. I have missed so many goals, that is why I have 70,” the skipper said.
Speaking about the quality of opposition in the Intercontinental Cup, Chhetri explained how India need to play higher ranked opposition more often in order to gauge themselves with the top tier of Asian sides.
“All three are good teams. It’s great. I don’t remember the last time we played Curacao, Thailand, Tajikistan, North Korea and Syria. We might lose some, we might win some. But we will be stronger for sure after playing these teams. These are the games you want to target,” he explained.
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