AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT
India has played one match against Qatar and the team led by Bruno Coutinho was hammered 0-6 in the away tie of the FIFA Qualification round in 1996. “Qatar was a good team but I think we committed a lot of silly mistakes and that is why we conceded so many goals,” recollects former captain Bruno Coutinho who played with four other players from Goa – Savio Medeira, Seby Coelho, Franky Barreto and Robert Fernandes – in the team.
India faces Qatar after 23 years and football has seen a lot of changes in the two countries. Against Qatar today, there are four players from Goa and three might make it to the starting eleven. As in the last match against Oman, India will be once again being judged on the standard of improvement under new coach Igor Stimac.
“We are on the right path. We won many Indian hearts with the way we have played but now we need to work more and harder on execution, firstly because to win against the top Asian teams we cannot keep missing good and clear chances. Secondly, we need to improve on our possession plan more. We can’t win games just holding the lead and sitting back and giving balls away easily as we did in the last twenty minutes against Oman,” Igor told The Navhind Times.
Igor has had 36 days practice with the boys and after losing his first match against Oman 1-2 he believes football can see improvement in India if the players are earnest. The lone goal India scored against Oman was a result of the twelve day practice session Igor had with his boys at the Athletic stadium in Bambolim.
“We cannot do much without a lot of work. We are a national team and not a club working on a daily basis. It now depends on how much the players will execute with their respective club managers and how much they will play in their positions,” said Igor when asked how long it will take India to rub its dependence on Sunil Chhetri to score goals.
“A lot will also depend on how much the boys are going to practice on developing individual skills apart from team training. I admit we did an enormous job in such a short time, but it’s still a long road we should see through,” added Igor.
Adil Khan and Rowllin Borges played through the game against Oman whilst Brandon Fernandes was substituted around the hour mark. Adil, who is more fluent as a withdrawn midfielder did justice to the faith, reposed on him by Igor and Rowllin did manage to lend his foot to the defence despite India conceding the two late goals.
Both did justice to
their selection against Oman and should get a start against Qatar. Brandon
played his role and most probably could not stand up to what was expected from
him in filling the void created by the absence of injured Amarjit
India lost against Oman but was not outplayed. Through ninety minutes of positive football, the team slept through momentary flashes of the past – where giving the ball easily away has been the norm before.
Igor knows he needs to work on this aspect of the game and more and for that he needs time. Surely, the time he got before this match against Qatar is not enough. But, as he promised before, the game India plays can keep getting more interesting and that will be tested against Qatar this evening.