Focus Is On Progressing To Third Phase Of Qualifying: Igor Stimac Ahead Of Afghanistan Clash


Football coach Igor Stimac on Thursday said India are entering the World Cup qualifying match against Afghanistan with a clear mindset and are focused on securing a place in the third stage of the qualifiers for the first time. India will play back-to-back games against Afghanistan as part of the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup Joint Qualifier Round 2, with the first match taking place on March 21 in Abha, Saudi Arabia. Home match against Afghanistan in Guwahati on 26 March.

“We'll go there to try to win the game,” Stimac said in a statement. “We're not looking at any big calculations right now. Once we all get there, we'll work on how to win the game from the first second.” But let's start talking.” AIFF release.

In November last year, India started their joint qualification round 2 campaign by earning full points against Kuwait, with a crucial goal from Manvir Singh in Kuwait City, but then suffered a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Qatar in Bhubaneswar. Had to do.

The Blue Tigers are currently level on three points with Kuwait but have the lowest goal difference in Group A.

They will be looking to get their performance back on track after the AFC Asian Cup disappointment in January, when India lost to Australia (0-2), Uzbekistan (0-3) and Syria (0-1) in Qatar.

“We are not a club that can work with players on a daily basis. If you talk about the Asian Cup, it was definitely disappointing, but mostly for those who do not follow us regularly. “The expectations were very high without any basis,” Stimac said.

“It's behind us, and I'm happy that now we have more important things to do. Our focus is on getting from the second stage of qualifying to the third stage,” Stimac said on the sidelines of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone semi. -Final match between Odisha FC and Central Coast Mariners FC (Australia).

Finishing in the top two in their group in the qualifiers will guarantee India progression to Round 3 of the qualifiers, something that will also ensure direct qualification for the AFC Asian Cup 2027.

The Indian team is set to travel to Abha on a chartered flight for its first match against Afghanistan.

Stimac said, “Afghanistan did everything possible to make it difficult for us, which was expected. Choosing Abha as our home venue at an altitude of 2,270 meters was a smart decision. It requires a lot of patience to play there. it occurs.”

“Whatever the case, we're going there with a clear mindset, and we're looking for points. Most of our boys are in good form at their clubs, and hopefully we can overcome all the difficulties and You can find a way to manage and play the game in a positive manner.

“They all have the same dream, so we don't need to put any motivation into them. We've never made it to Round 3 before, and if we do, it will give them a new chance to qualify for Worlds. Will give dreams. Cup in the future.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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