The Indian national football team will put up a better performance against Nepal on Sunday, September 5, insisted head coach Igor Stimac.
The Blue Tigers will return to the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu, barely 72 hours after the first friendly ended in a 1-1 stalemate. Nepal took an early lead in the 36th-minute through Anjan Bista, which was cancelled out by Anirudh Thapa in the 60th-minute.
Inclement weather kept the players indoors after their drawn first match on Thursday. Kathmandu has been facing the past 10 days and according to the local weather office it will rain next week too. The chance of cancellation of the match is also in the air since Saturday afternoon.
“Despite the setback, the mood is positive and our boys are aware that they can do much better,” Stimac said. “Of course, we are short of practice because we are just at the end of the second week of preparation, and the legs are still heavy. But, they are looking forward to putting in a better performance,” he added.
Stimac also mentioned that there will be some improvisations made to the playing strategy ahead of Sunday's tie. “We are going to change a few things, and see if that can help us in terms of passing with more confidence, and getting forward easier,” Stimac said.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has urged his teammates to give everything against Nepal on Sunday. “The (first) game was a tough one and Nepal were very organised. We had moments where we could have done better as a team, and there were moments where we did get better," the Indian custodian said.
"We need to make sure that we have a strong mentality going into the second and not give anything to a team who is looking for something all the fit. We need to make sure that we use it to prepare for the SAFF Championship in good order,” Gurpreet added.
Anirudh Thapa, who was part of the victorious India U-15 National Team that won the SAFF title in Kathmandu years ago, has confirmed he is fine after he reportedly suffered a knock above his ankle.
“I have been working on my short sprints, especially my start. That allowed me to connect the ball ahead of my marker, and even goalkeeper Kiran-bhai (Kiran Limbu),” he explains. “We were much better in the second half in the first match and wished the match could have continued for some more time for us to find the winner. As it kicks off tomorrow (September 5), we look ahead to a continuation, and manner we played in the second half,” Anirudh quips.