Ahead of the India Under-23 football team’s game against the UAE, national coach Igor Stimac has said that he had told his boys to “stay humble, and dream big”, as what they have achieved after defeating favourites Oman in the opening game was something big.
The India team will play their second AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers game in Fujairah later on Wednesday hoping to beat the hosts, after the back-four and goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh played a solid game against Oman on October 24, defeating them 2-1.
“I have told them to stay humble, and dream big. From my experience I asked them to forget the game against Oman, and concentrate on the following one. We achieved something nobody really expected us to. So I want our boys to enjoy their football, and play their hearts out.
“We need to be realistic because UAE are technically a far better team than Oman. So, let’s not get overdosed after winning one game. Our boys played brilliant football against Oman, and that’s all we are looking for in the next game,” said Stimac on Wednesday.
Stimac said that he will not put added pressure on the players, adding that the team was here to “gain some experience” and the check out “where we stand”.
“I won’t allow them to feel any sort of pressure. We came here to gain some experience, and to check where we stand against strong oppositions. Nothing more than that. They (UAE) are a properly developed team. Their movements on the pitch and the passing are extremely impressive. So we need to be extra careful about not losing positions early. They lost their first match and that will keep them highly motivated, which means we need to be prepared for a bigger challenge. We need to be aware that keeping tight lines, and not dropping too deep will be crucial against UAE,” said Stimac.
Elaborating on the game against Oman, goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh said that a solid performance from the defence was the key to winning against a technically superior side.
“Our back four were in solid form. They were strong, winning tackles, winning aerial balls. They made my job easier. But we conceded in the last five minutes, and we need to bring in the extra concentration as the game progresses. It’s a big lesson we learned from the last game,” said Dheeraj.
“It’s a nice feeling to start our campaign with a win. But we shouldn’t get carried away. We will make sure we stay humble and control our emotions as we prepare for the next one. And we know it’s going to be a very tough one against UAE,” Dheeraj added.
The kick-off against UAE is at 10 pm IST on Wednesday, and the match will be live streamed on the Indian football team’s official Facebook handle.