New Delhi, September 17
India head coach Igor Stimac today lashed out at the Indian Super League (ISL) organisers and the clubs for not releasing players for the Asian Games as the national federation (AIFF) was forced to stitch an under-strength side at the last moment after hectic parleys.
While Stimac did not take names while addressing a virtual press conference ahead of the team’s departure but dropped enough hints about those who scuppered his and AIFF’s plan to field a strong squad.
“If I knew that certain elements will stop us from going with the best possible team, I would have rather picked all the players from the I-League and requested to train with them for two months,” Stimac said.
“It would not have been much different,” he added, making clear what he thinks about the third-string players that the ISL clubs have released.
As the squad was stitched at the eleventh hour after the ISL clubs refused to release their players and organisers Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) did not entertain a request to delay the start of the league by a few days, Stimac informed that the team will play its first match on Tuesday against China without a single session. The team will reach the Games Village tomorrow.
“We will reach at 5pm and there will be no training session prior to the game. We have to do tactical preparation with the players at the airport and during the flight so that they can rest after reaching there,” he said.
Stimac is not sure of the results from the team but remained optimistic.
“Five or six of these players are not involved in the ISL and most of them have never worked with me. There is a possibility to qualify from the group but to do that we need luck. Also, the boys need to produce the best performance of their lives,” he said.
After China, India face Bangladesh (September 21) and Myanmar (September 24) in their group matches. The top two teams from the six groups will make it to the pre-quarterfinals, with four best-ranked third-placed sides also qualifying.
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