We don't look for easy opponents, can improve only by playing against better sides: Stimac

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Blue Tigers head coach Igor Stimac (Photo/ AIFF)
Blue Tigers head coach Igor Stimac (Photo/ AIFF)

New Delhi [India], March 18 (ANI): There are a number of new faces in the 27-man Blue Tigers squad that has travelled to Dubai for their two international friendlies, and head coach Igor Stimac made it known that the selection was based on a number of criteria, including ISL form, past performances for the national team, and overall experience.

Stimac on Thursday explained his decision-making process for squad-selection, stating that it was based on a "conglomeration" of different criteria.

"A conglomeration of different factors (went into deciding the squad). 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," All India Football Federation quoted Stimac as saying.

The Blue Tigers boss further took pride in the fact that he has an extremely young squad at his disposal. "It's a long process, and we are preparing to play and win against the best. 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," he continued.

Apart from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers, the Blue Tigers have also played a number of international friendlies against quality opponents like Curacao, Thailand, Tajikistan, Syria and DPR Korea. With two more international friendlies scheduled against Oman (March 25) and the UAE (March 29), the Croatian coach outlined his philosophy of playing the best in the business, 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," mentioned the India head coach.

"Immediately after we found out (that the World Cup Qualifiers were postponed to June), we were able to confirm two friendlies against Oman and UAE, with the help of Abhishek Yadav (Deputy General Secretary, AIFF) and Kushal Das (General Secretary, AIFF). 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," he added. (ANI)