Coach Stimac defines Indian football team’s goals

India will take on Kuwait on Thursday (6) at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium in their penultimate second-round game.

Coach Stimac defines Indian football team’s goals

Eastern Eye

THE Indian football team coach Igor Stimac last Sunday (2) said the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kuwait could “change the careers” of his players, describing it as a “huge game”.

India will take on Kuwait on Thursday (6) at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium in their penultimate second-round game. This will be followed by an away match against Qatar next Tuesday (11).  

Despite their loss to lower-ranked Afghanistan in the home leg match in Guwahati in March, India could make a maiden entry in the third round of qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.  

“It’s a huge game. The careers of the boys can change with this game. I want them to enjoy and do their best in the game,” Stimac told the All India Football Federation (AIFF).  

India has slipped to 121 in the FIFA world rankings after gaining just a solitary point in their two meetings against Afghanistan in March. 

 The team hope to improve their performance against Kuwait in what will also be talisman Sunil Chhetri’s farewell from international football.  

“For such an important game, we need to do a few things in regards to strength conditioning, understanding what it needs, how important this game is, and mental strength and self-confidence,” Stimac said. “So, we work on all aspects needed for our boys to be on top of their form in this game.”  

The head coach added: “There are two key points for the preparations for this game. First, winning the game is crucial. And to reach that target, we need to be very clever. We need to understand that in the game, we require patience. 

 “If we don’t open the scoring in the first half-hour, we need to be intelligent and play quality football together with pace. All these aspects are very important and we have to prepare for them.”  

The Blue Tigers are winless in six matches and have scored just a goal in these games.  

In the past year, India met Kuwait three times. It includes the victory in a tiebreaker in the SAFF Championship final in Bengaluru.  

“Each of those matches was very tough and I can clearly state we controlled all those games in superb ways,” Stimac said.  

“We dominated for the bigger parts in each one of these games. We were above them physically. But on other occasions, before the Kuwait games, we had many games that helped us reach that level.  

“But it is a different game now because they are coming here when we didn’t have the opportunity to play games. No league is being played now, no club is available. But we did play two games between us to reach the intensity we required.  

“And I need to tell you that the boys were superb in those two games. I am very happy with them; happy with everything that was done in the last three weeks.” 

 Asked if anything else could have added value to the side, Stimac said, “I don’t have the right to think about it. We have to focus on what we have, what we can do and what can be improved.  

“In the final week, we are concentrating on set pieces, offensive tactics, and a few details regarding the shape, team composure, and speed of passing. That’s all.”