We didn't get what we want, so don't ask about results in Asian Cup: Stimac

We didn't get what we want, so don't ask about results in Asian Cup: Stimac

Bhubaneswar, Nov 22 (PTI) India head coach Igor Stimac said he would not consider the upcoming Asian Cup in Doha as an important tournament as the team is competing in the continental showpiece without proper national camp, comments which may ruffle the feathers of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Stimac wanted at least four weeks of national camp ahead of the continent's premier competition which begins on January 12 but with the first phase of the Indian Super League (ISL) continuing till December 29, the clubs are unlikely to release their players for a long training camp.

India face formidable Australia on January 13 and Stimac is unlikely to get more than 10 days of training with all his national team players together. Uzbekistan and Syria are the other two teams in India's group.

'We did not get what we wanted. I was very clear, you give me time and I might provide results for you. Without the time, do not ask about the results or anything like that. Just forget it,' Stimac said bluntly.

'I will go there (Doha) with pride to represent India with my boys. We are going to do everything but there is no time for us to work, 12-13 days is nothing to prepare,' he said after India lost 0-3 to Qatar in a World Cup second round qualifiers match here.

The top two teams from each of the six groups as well as the four best third-place sides will advance into the round of 16.

Stimac mentioned that most of the countries will be coming for the Asian Cup well prepared with long camps.

'We are going to face Uzbekistan who will be preparing for six weeks. I don't consider Australia as a team which we can (beat), they are better than Qatar. They are out of our league. But we are going to try everything and do everything.' 'World Cup qualifiers more important than Asian Cup' ================================ As the national team is not getting enough time for Asian Cup preparation, Stimac said the continental showpiece is no longer a very important tournament for him.

'For us the most important thing is the World Cup qualifier. Knowing that we are not going to get enough time for the Asian Cup, I don't consider the Asian Cup as such an important tournament for us,' said Stimac.

'I don't want to get my players injured there. That is all I am going to take care of. Because there are three games against such big opponents like Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria. We might do something well and we are definitely going to fight and do everything on the pitch. But I am not worried about that.

'I need to make sure that we get enough points in our group in the World Cup qualifiers to make sure that we get five-six home games in the third round and that will be huge for Indian football for the future. So let us stop talking about the Asian Cup.' Stimac's comments may not be taken kindly by the AIFF top brass with whom he has had run-ins in the past.

The Croatian was served show-cause notice earlier in the year for his public comments though his contract, which was to end after the Asian Cup is over, was extended for another two years until June 2026.

'Needs better system' ============= Stimac also talked about the need for improvements in the organisation and logistics in the national team set-up.

'We still need to work a lot, we still need many things to do inside our house, inside our family about everything that is connected to football. Qatar spends more in one trip coming here than what we do in the whole year, on all selections, as clear as that.

Organisation-wise, travel, logistics, food, sleep, rest, everything needs to get better and that will help us in future. That is what I am looking for and requesting for.' Despite the 0-3 drubbing at the hands of Qatar, Stimac is happy about the performance of the team. He had said before the match that Qatar were 'out of the league' for India.

'Overall, I am happy because the result (against Qatar) was not our priority. My priority as a coach was to get answers to some questions which were haunting me for some time,' he said.

'We are not having any more games prior to the Australia match in the Asian Cup. I have my answers and this was a huge win out of this game. I have a clear picture, clarity of what needs to be done and who are the players who can go there.' PTI PDS ATK ATK

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