Updated June 6th, 2024 at 23:53 IST

Igor Stimac blames India's sloppy passing for draw against Kuwait

India coach Igor Stimac wanted his team to do everything in its power to make the iconic Sunil Chhetri's last international match memorable. After his wards failed to do so, the gaffer blamed the side's "lack of quality" in passing here on Thursday.

भारतीय मेंस फुटबॉल टीम के कोच इगर स्टिमक | Image:AP
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Kolkata, Jun 6 (PTI) India coach Igor Stimac wanted his team to do everything in its power to make the iconic Sunil Chhetri's last international match memorable. After his wards failed to do so, the gaffer blamed the side's "lack of quality" in passing here on Thursday.

Chhetri stirred up emotions in his final outing but the Indian football team failed to convert the chances and settled for a goalless draw with Kuwait in a crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying match, critically hurting its chances of going into the next round.

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"We are obviously disappointed with the result. The game was tough, as we expected. The draw is realistic tonight, they opened the game much better and with more confidence -- in terms of passing, speed of passing and moving," Stimac said.

"It took us some time to gear up and start passing the ball into the danger zones.

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"The general passing speed was our biggest problem tonight -- it wasn't good enough. Even in certain moments, when we put pressure on them, there was no quality in the delivery to help the forwards.

"That's not the reason we didn't win, we weren't clinical in front of the goal and our best player tonight was Gurpreet, which isn't a good sign. It's fantastic to have such a goalkeeper here, who we never doubted." The draw meant the long-serving Indian skipper had a tearful farewell, failing to add to his record tally of 94 goals from 151 international appearances.

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"I feel really sad for Sunil, really sad that he didn't go with a win. In regards to everything, he was not thinking of his last minutes, not a single player of staff member," he said.

India will next face Asian heavyweights Qatar in an away fixture on June 11 and will also keep a close watch on Kuwait's home match against Afghanistan on the same day.

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"We don't have time to feel sorry for ourselves as we are still alive. I need to do everything in the next five days to make the boys believe, make them create the environment of belief, which can take us into a challenge against Qatar who are a very different team.

"It's a small hope, but it's till there and we need to believe and trust in ourselves and give our best shot to win the game." Stimac was critical of Sahal Abdul Samad and Anirudh Thapa who failed to impress.

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"When you don't win the game and aren't happy with the result, how can you say that some players impressed you.

"We need to be better, some was good but many things tonight was not where we wanted to be.

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"You could see that we couldn't start dominating the game in the middle even if we started with Sahal and Thapa. I expected much more from them in the first half.

"Sahal didn't play in the final stages. He was covering lots of ground, his defensive work was fantastic and he looked nice with Sunil.

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"But I needed Sahal to be playmaker to dictate the game, create chances and also put in defensive work." "Thapa has got enough experience to adapt to situations. I expect more from them as they have enough experience to do so," he added.

The coach further gave his thumbs up to the fans for turning up in huge numbers to make Chhetri's last match extra special.

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"Huge appreciation for the fans, for their support." Need to cope without Sunil: Gurpreet ======================== India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said Chhetri's absence would be felt against Qatar but they need to cope up and move forward.

"Like any other team we prepare for, obviously this time around we won't have Sunil bhai with us, which is sad but as a nation we need to cope up with that and move forward.

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"The world doesn't wait for anyone and we need to prepare ourselves in the best manner possible. Any game is not a loss before the 90 minutes and we'll go out there against Qatar to win game and give our best shot to win it," he added. PTI TAP AH AH

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Published June 6th, 2024 at 23:53 IST