Desperately needing a win in their joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers, India head coach Igor Stimac on Sunday hinted a change of strategy from defensive to offensive in the match against Bangladesh in Doha on Monday. (More Football News)
A winless India must beat Bangladesh on Monday if they want to jump to third spot in Group E standings and keep themselves afloat for a direct berth in the Asian Cup third qualifying round.
Otherwise, they will have to play in the qualifying play-off round of the continental showpiece. India are already out of contention for a World Cup berth.
"It's a big game for our fans and team. We're going to approach the game to win it without any disrespect to our opponents. Our aim has stayed the same since the beginning – to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup,” Stimac said at the pre-match conference.
"We are going to try to show some composure different from that of Qatar or Oman match. It's up to us whether we can handle the match better in regards to ball possession, ball movement, speed and accuracy of passing and the eventual execution.”
India were beaten 0-1 by Asian champions Qatar on Thursday. They were left to defend throughout the match with the Qataris attacking in waves.
Stimac described Bangladesh as a “team with great fighting spirit” that puts in “quality work” on the pitch. The last time the two teams met in the first leg at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in October 2019, the match ended 1-1.
"In the football world, I would say they are very annoying teamz who disturb the opposition with so much defensive work, quality work -- with blocks -- quite similar to what we did against Qatar,” Stimac said.
"At times you need to do everything possible to irritate the rival team, to annoy them, to cut their passing. Bangladesh are fighting it for every point in the group, and whatever they do, they do it as a team.”
India are ranked 105th in the FIFA chart as against 184th of Bangladesh.
Stimac conceded that Bangladesh players have the advantage of being much more competitively fit.
"Bangladesh were also in a similar situation to us as far as preparation is concerned. But they have the advantage of their players being much more competitively fit as their season ended in second week of May in comparison to most of our players not having any competitive football since February.”
Senior player Sandesh Jhingan said that the team would aim to carry forward the “character” displayed against Qatar into the match against Bangladesh.
“The match against Qatar was not easy. But we displayed a certain character and arrogance in the 90 minutes against the Asian champions. We aim to do great in our second game. We will give our best and try to make everyone proud,” he said.