The morning after, the Blue Tigers prefer to look ahead, with around 48 hours left for their do-or-die encounter against the hosts, Maldives.
The morning after, in fact, expounds the professional ethics of a squad – recovery sessions, rest, working on tight muscles, knocks and preparing everyone.
“I am very happy and grateful about the manner the boys responded against Nepal,” Head Coach Igor Stimac stated with a smile. “I am very happy with the points which have kept us alive, and the possibility of reaching the final,” he continued.
The Blue Tigers suffer a setback, however. Forward Farukh Chowdhury has been ruled out of the Championship after picking up an injury in the match against Nepal.
India took all three points, but Stimac wanted to address a vital point – the conversion rate. “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 stated.
A watchword in talisman Sunil Chhetri’s life – ‘Patience’. Thanks to his match-winning strike in the last game, Chhetri has now scored 77 international. It puts him on par with Legend of the Game, Pelé.
“We are all very happy for him,” Stimac expressed. “The team is working very hard for him to score goals.”
Sunil, however, does not talk about the numbers. Instead, at breakfast, he is the chirpy one around. He asks about the team’s fatigue and their ensuing recovery.
Center-half Rahul Bheke sees the team improve with every game. “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 elucidated.
As things stand, India have 5 points from 3 matches. They face the Maldives, who are on 6 points from 3 matches. A draw against the Maldives is enough to earn them a final ticket. The Blue Tigers, on the other hand, need a win to book their berth in the summit clash.
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