Dushanbe [Tajikistan], Nov 13 : Ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifying game, India head coach Igor Stimac said that Afghanistan will pose a tough challenge for them.
“We know how difficult this game is going to be for us. We both (India and Afghanistan) have already faced Qatar and Bangladesh in the qualifiers. We see Afghanistan as a physical side with good composure. They have some players who also have the experience of playing in Europe,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) quoted Stimac as saying.
“They are not in the top division, but playing in Europe always gives you an extra bit of confidence. They have stamina and they’ll pose a tough challenge for us,” he added.
The center-back Anas Edathodika has flown back home due to family emergency and Stimac said that the onus is now on other players.
“Anas (Edathodika) is having a tough time. Our thoughts are with him and his family. He has been an instrumental member of the squad and we will miss him. The onus is now on the other players to take the mantle and deliver on the pitch. It might present an excellent opportunity for the other boys,” Stimac said.
India’s Pronay Halder is ready for the challenge saying that they will try to execute the coach’s plans on the pitch.
“As a player you have to be confident and face off with every challenge head-on. That’s why we are here. Yes, the conditions have not been in our favour to some extent but that won’t have any effect when the referee blows the whistle. If we can execute the coach’s plans on the pitch, we can surely hope for a good result,” Halder said.
On the other hand, Afghanistan Head Coach, Anoush Dastagiv, said they feel like home at Tajikistan and playing there gives them “much needed confidence”.
“Yes, geographically it’s far from own country and we would have been happier if we could have gotten the chance to play in our own country. But, playing in Tajikistan has always given us much needed confidence. We have beaten Cambodia, Bangladesh here and settled with a draw against Tajikistan, Jordan. Those results will surely give us a psychological boost tomorrow,” Dastagiv said.
“Here, people speak our language. We feel at home. Whenever we play in front of Afghani crowd, we never fail to get positive results. We hope we can get something closer to that tomorrow as well,” he added.
India will compete against Afghanistan on November 14.
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