“We are ourselves guilty for not winning the match against Bangladesh,” admitted Indian national football team head coach Igor Stimac after drawing their opening match in the SAFF Championship at National Football Stadium in Male, the Maldives.

“We had everything in control, we dominated the game, and had a one-nil advantage, and even had a one-man advantage. But despite all of that, for some unknown reasons, we started giving away simple passes, making unnecessary mistakes. And if you boost the confidence of your opponent, that’s how it finishes when you give them a chance,” the Croat told the-aiff.com on Monday after the match.

A 10-man Bangladesh held seven-time winners India in their first match of the SAFF Championship. India next play Sri Lanka on Thursday (October 7). Bangladesh, who have four points from two matches, will take on hosts and reigning champions the Maldives on the same day.

Among the five nations competing, India have the highest FIFA rankings of No. 107, while hosts Maldives are placed at No. 158, neighbours Nepal are listed 168, Bangladesh are ranked No. 189 and Sri Lanka are at 205. Pakistan who have been suspended by the FIFA and Myanmar reportedly due to the Covid-19 pandemic issues are conspicuous by their absence.

On Tuesday, the Indians had a gym session for recovery and will train at the ground on the morrow (October 6).

“We were punished today for not being reasonable in certain situations, and for not using our experience. This is an experienced Indian team. I expected much more because too many times there was unnecessary nervousness, and that’s hard to explain,” Stimac said in his post-match meeting.

With the medical team tirelessly working with the players, there are no injury concerns, with everyone being available for the match against Sri Lanka who lost 0-1 to Bangladesh on Saturday.

“We are now looking forward to the next match. We have another three matches in the group stage in which we need to play well. The boys played very good football for more than 75 minutes – progressive football, reasonably passing the ball around, and getting into dangerous positions,” Stimac said. “But 15 minutes is too much in an International match for not being organised, and making many mistakes.”

The kick-off of India’s match against Sri Lanka is at IST 4.30 pm on October 7, and the match will be telecast live on Eurosport.


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