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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Fifa World Cup Qualifiers: Third-round berth remains a priority for head coach Igor Stimac

India will take on lower-ranked Afghanistan in their second-round qualifying match here on Thursday, and a win in the hill town will only brighten their chances of progressing to the third round, something the Blue Tigers have never achieved

PTI Abha Published 21.03.24, 12:09 PM
India football team coach Igor Stimac.

India football team coach Igor Stimac. File picture

The results against Kuwait and Qatar in June will be the real indicator of the Indian football team's prospects of making a maiden appearance in the third round of the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers, head coach Igor Stimac said on Wednesday.

India will take on lower-ranked Afghanistan in their second-round qualifying match here on Thursday, and a win in the hill town will only brighten their chances of progressing to the third round, something the Blue Tigers have never achieved.

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"Each game is important from the aspect of self-confidence and rankings. But our priority and the final goal is to qualify for Round III. There are various options to get there and obviously, nothing will be decided in the next two games. The matches in June against Kuwait and Qatar will tell us everything," Stimac said.

The Indians arrived here on March 15 and have had five full training sessions ahead of the match, acclimatising to the conditions in the mountain city, which is 2,470 metres above sea level.

"We have been training normally as usual. We came here earlier so the boys can adapt to the different climate in Abha, and things look okay at the moment," he said.

Stimac's counterpart and Afghanistan head coach Ashley Westwood knows Indian football all too well, having coached Bengaluru FC, ATK, and RoundGlass Punjab FC.

He took charge of the Afghanistan national team last November, right before the World Cup Qualifiers kicked off.

India skipper Sunil Chhetri, who won two I-League titles and a Federation Cup playing under Westwood at Bengaluru FC, shared his thoughts on the Afghanistan side.

"They will play like a unit, they will be aggressive, they will know exactly what they have to do because that's how Ashley Westwood is."

PTI

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