“Which team and what morale?”
Nothing summed up the mood of Indian national team football head coach Igor Stimac better when asked to describe his feelings on the hastily-put together squad handed to him and its spirit, ahead of the Asian Games where a group of Indian U23 players are set to face the Chinese U23 team, less than a day after landing at the venue. An unbalanced team – one that is missing key fullbacks and midfielders and will likely see no participation from Sunil Chhetri and Sandesh Jhingan in the first match, underline how dire the circumstances surrounding this team and its preparation have been.
“From a point of asking for a training camp it has come to a point where we need to be happy with just getting the players before kick-off. It’s a disservice to the national team. The things I was asking for, I wasn’t asking for myself,” Stimac said during a media interaction.
The commencement of the Indian Super League season, along with AFC club competitions taking place, has meant that Stimac has had to make do without the set of players that he had asked for – most of whom didn’t get released by their clubs. No FIFA international window meant that clubs weren’t obligated to do so in the first place. What could have been another tournament and another chance for Indian national team players to gel further was squandered as the All-India Football Federation was unable to convince clubs to release certain players.
Asian Games a golden opportunity for youngsters, says @stimac_igorRead on indianexpress.com