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Team India during training (Photo: Twitter/Indian Football Team)
Team India during training (Photo: Twitter/Indian Football Team)

India need to be hungry, prepared and fully motivated to beat Cambodia: Coach Igor Stimac

ANI | Updated: Jun 07, 2022 20:14 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], June 7 (ANI): India football head coach Igor Stimac believes his team are fully prepared and is hopeful of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup finals as they take on Cambodia in the third round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Stimac warned of complacency given that India are the favourites and the highest-ranked team in the group, and stated that he doesn't his players want to get too ahead of themselves with the only focus being on the opponent they are up against.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated opening match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers against Cambodia, the Croatian head coach addressed the media during an official pre-match press conference.
Playing against a 171st ranked Cambodia is an easy opening game for India, talking about that Croatian said: "I don't look at the rankings and Cambodia didn't come here just to participate. They came here with the same desire, to win the games."

"When India were 184 and 150, India did not go to participate, they did not go to lose, they went to win games. I will never say we're going to be beating anyone easily. Because that wouldn't do good in motivational aspect for my team. We need to be hungry for this and we need to be ready, we need to be fully motivated."
"And if you are preparing your team to go out and play an easy game, to get an easy win, it will never happen. Today, football doesn't bring easy games. I am sorry. It doesn't bring easy games anymore. There is a very small margin of difference in the quality and that makes a difference. Do you score or don't? That's what makes the difference. If you open up the scoring early that makes your opponents very nervous. And that changes everything - mindset, confidence and result. So let's look at football from a very realistic point," he added.
India are chasing a fifth appearance in the Asian Cup finals tournament. The Blue Tigers aim to qualify for back-to-back Asian Cups for the first time ever. Previously, India have featured in the 1964, 1984, 2011, and 2019 editions.
After the match against Cambodia, India face Afghanistan and Hong Kong in Group D. All matches will be played at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
While India bowed out of the race to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar back in 2019, the national team aim to make it into the quadrennial global event in 2026, where the tournament will be expanded to 48 teams, featuring 8 from Asia. (ANI)