The Indian men’s football team lost 6-0 to UAE after securing a 1-1 draw against Oman in the two international friendlies in March. A forgetful tour of the United Arab Emirates had a lot of learnings and after their heaviest defeat in over a decade.
Anirudh Thapa, speaking to the media at a virtual press conference, accepted that the results were not ideal, saying that head coach Igor Simac was not happy with the result.
“Obviously, he was disappointed, because, no one was expecting that result. We last played UAE in the Asian Cup (back in 2019). That went pretty well but this time it was difficult. The message was nothing, it was just clear that he was disappointed, and we need to work harder, because of the work top teams in Asia are doing,” Anirudh said.
“We need to see that there are many young players coming, who have no experience in the national set-up. We need to give them chance to see how well they cope up. To see those young players doing well (against UAE), he was a bit happy and obviously disappointed. The results were not in our favour,” he added.
After handing out 10 debuts (Akash Mishra, Ashutosh Mehta, Chinglensana Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Bipin Singh, Jeakson Singh, Lalengmawia Ralte, Yasir Mohammad, Ishan Pandita and Mashoor Shareef) in the game against 81st ranked Oman, as against the 104th UAE, head coach Igor Stimac made changes to starting XI and gave 22-year-old forward Liston Colaco his debut.
Anirudh said the debuts from players in both the games were something the coach had chalked out well in advance.
“I think coach had a plan. He knew that these are friendly matches and that’s why he got new players and they performed really well. Especially from the ISL, he had to see who was ready to play the big games for the national team,” Anirudh said.
“Result, what went wrong was, with them being new players, the pressure is there when you’re representing your country, you have to give your best.
“When you have new players come in, it’s also difficult for us to cope up with the style what the coach wants. It’s just that he wanted to play everyone on the field and find out who was capable of playing in his system. There will be changes in the coming games, and we will definitely do our very best,” Thapa added.
Anirudh said the Indian team is looking to play a possessive style of football, irrespective of results.
“The training has been good. You know what he likes, he is more into keeping the position. He motivates everyone, whether you had a bad training or a bad match. He always motivates us in regards of whatever we are capable of, and whatever the result is. He’s a positive coach, and that makes him different from others, because the positivity he brings within the team is really different,” Anirudh said.
“He has a system, he has everything planned to get in with ‘The Professor’ (strength and conditioning coach Luka Radman). Professor is also there, he helps us build muscles,” he added.