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India boss Igor Stimac: What are we going to do when Sunil Chhetri retires?

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Skipper Sunil Chhetri scored a late brace in Monday’s 2022 World Cup qualification tie against Bangladesh…

A Sunil Chhetri (79, 90+2′) brace helped India defeat Bangladesh 2-0 to record their first win in Group E of the second round 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers.

The win has helped the Blue Tigers climb to third place in the group with six points after seven games. The result is a major boost to their chances of earning a direct spot in the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers.

What did Igor Stimac say?

“We presented football as it should be. That’s the way we always want to play. Of course, it’s not always possible but when we are favourites against a lower-ranked team, it’s something that we will like to present. The players did everything they could to get the win. So all the credit to them for executing the game plan perfectly,” said the 53-year-old.

With Bangladesh ranked 79 places lower than India who are at 105, he continued, “The best defence against lower-ranked teams is attacking – keeping them away from the ball. Just to explain, if we didn’t keep doing what we were doing right throughout the game, we wouldn’t have scored the second and allowed Bangladesh to come at us.”

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Who can replace Sunil Chhetri?

The former Croatia national team coach went on to praise Indian forward Sunil Chhetri’s contribution on and off the field. “Many people were asking last year or so, ‘when is Sunil going to retire?’ (If Chhetri retires) what are we going to do then? By far, in every training, he (Chhetri) is our best player,” Stimac remarked.

‘We have a great future’

The India coach praised the Qatari and Indian governments for enabling them to partake in the remainder of the second round qualification games wherein the Blue Tigers are set to play their final game against Afghanistan on June 15.

“Even if we didn’t get a single point here out of three games, all I asked from my boys to do well and represent the country in discipline together as a team. If we were going to lose a game, we would lose it as a team because we didn’t have any time whatsoever to do things better. But I’m very proud of my boys. They worked their socks off, they are learning and I think we have a great future,” Stimac opined.

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