AIFF Media Team
MALE, MALDIVES: The morning after, the Blue Tigers prefer not to look back. There’s just two days in between for the next do-or-die match against hosts Maldives.
The morning after, in fact, defines the professional ethics of a squad – the recovery sessions and the process, the rest, working on the tight muscles, knocks and getting everyone ready in time, and in full gear.
“I am very happy and grateful about the manner the boys responded against Nepal,” Head Coach Igor Stimac stated. “I am very happy with the points which have kept us alive, and the possibility of reaching the final,” he added.
The Blue Tigers have received a jolt as forward Farukh Chowdhury has been ruled out of the Championship after suffering an injury in the last match against Nepal.
But despite the victory, Stimac stressed a very vital point – the percentage of chances being converted. “We need to improve our scoring from the chances which we are creating. It is simple, and if we do that games become very easy. Otherwise you need to suffer till the end, or even beyond the end. But we need to be patient,” he averred.
‘Patience,’ that’s always been a keyword in the talismanic Sunil Chhetri’s life. Courtesy his match-winner in the last game, he now stands on 77 goals at the International arena, the same number of goals as King Pele.
“We are all very happy for him,” Stimac expressed. “The team is working very hard for him to score goals.”
Sunil, however, isn’t much willing to talk about numbers. At the breakfast table, he is the chirpy one around as he enquires about everyone’s fatigue, and their subsequent recovery process.
Central defender Rahul Bheke felt that the team is improving with every match. “We have been getting better. Everyone is aware of the job at hand. There’s no reason why we can’t do it. But at the same time we understand that it needs to be done on the field,” Bheke explained.
The group table points out that India are on 5 points from 3 matches and face Maldives who are on 6 from the same number of games. Even a draw for Maldives will earn them a ticket to the final, the Blue Tigers need to win to ensure their spot in the summit clash.