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Intercontinental Cup 2023: We Could Have Scored More Goals, Says India Football Coach Igor Stimac

Up against an unknown entity, India wasted no time in taking the lead with Sahal Abdul Samad opening the tally in the second minute lead before Lallianzuala Chhangte scored in the 14th minute on Friday.

Lallianzuala Chhangte doubled India's lead by scoring in the 14th minute.
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India head coach Igor Stimac is satisfied with the winning start to their Intercontinental Cup campaign, but rued missed chances, saying they could have scored more goals in their 2-0 win over Mongolia. (More Football News)

Up against an unknown entity, India wasted no time in taking the lead with Sahal Abdul Samad opening the tally in the second minute lead before Lallianzuala Chhangte scored in the 14th minute in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

"We're overall happy with our performance. We did everything we sought today - a clean sheet and a victory," Stimac said in the post-match media interaction.

"The boys enjoyed their time on the pitch, passing the ball, creating chances, and scoring goals. 

"I feel a bit sorry that there were no more goals because there were enough chances to do that," said Stimac.

India were taking on Mongolia for the first time and Stimac said the Blue Wolves defended well.

"The Mongolian team defended well. They were good in the middle press, but couldn't trouble us with the high press as we had magnificent midfielders like Apuia and Thapa, who are very confident on the ball.

"We knew we'll have the flanks open to create more crossing opportunities. That's what happened today, but it's a bit sad that we didn't get more goals," Stimac said.

On a six-game winning streak on home soil, a run stretching back to the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers in Kolkata last June, India will now look to seal a final berth when they face lower-ranked Vanuatu on Monday.

India are looking to regain the title they last won in 2018.

"There are many more games to come this month. This is a good base to build up, and I hope our hard work will pay back," he said.

"It's not easy to play in such heat and humidity, but our boys have no complaints. I'm so proud of them and hope they stay injury-free and continue to enjoy themselves on the pitch."

The Blue Tigers have kept five clean sheets, scoring 13 goals and conceding just one, which has left Stimac pleased.

ALL PRAISE FOR CHHANGTE, SAMAD

Winger Chhangte, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Thursday, was adjudged the Hero-of-the-Match and he along with Samad earned the coach's praise. 

"He (Chhangte) works so hard on a daily basis. You should make a movie about him as he's an inspiration for future generations, who are coming up and knocking on the door of the senior team. They should learn from him what it takes to be a professional.

"People see him on Sundays scoring for Mumbai City, but they don't see him the rest of six-and-a-half days working for that Sunday. We need to appreciate him, and I hope his run will continue," Stimac said. 

On Samad, the coach said: "With how we analysed our opponents Mongolia, we wanted a player like Sahal to start today as he is capable of finding gaps, turning, creating chances, and scoring goals. I'm so happy for him."

Chhangte was glad to score his first goal for the Blue Tigers since the 2019 Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad against DPR Korea.

"We started really well but were a bit sloppy at the start of the second half. 

"However, we kept going for more goals until the end of 90 minutes. We could've done better, but tonight's win still gives us motivation for the next game. We will be back stronger in that one," Chhangte said.

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