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Football coach Stimac 'doesn't have huge expectations' from his U-23 boys

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Dubai, Oct 24 (IANS) Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac “doesn’t have huge expectations” from his side, which begins its campaign against Oman in the qualifiers for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup here later on Sunday, saying that he just wants everyone to “give their best on the pitch”.

As India U-23 gear up for the opening match, Stimac also said that the next three games will provide a chance to the boys to gauge “where they stand against their generation” from other Asian countries.

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“The next three matches (will) provide a chance to the youngsters to gain some experience and gauge where they stand against their generation of stronger sides like Oman, UAE, and Kyrgyz Republic,” said Stimac.

“We don’t have huge expectations. We hope everyone will give their best on the pitch. That’s what I am asking from the players. At this moment, it’s difficult to say how we will fare against stronger sides, who are prepared more than us for this leg. But I also hope we can surprise some. We will look for our chances,” he added.

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India have been clubbed in Group E along with hosts UAE, Oman and Kyrgyz Republic. Stimac said that players will need to adapt their game according to the situation and that no-one can prepare them for every situation.

“We have analysed the games which Oman played in the last tournament. We tried to explain to our players about their strengths, and how we should play but we need to see how we can execute it on the field. Every match brings forward different situations at certain stages, and then it’s all about how the players can adapt and proceed,” the coach said.

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The U-23 boys headed to Dubai on the back of the senior team winning the SAFF Championship in Maldives.

“We participated in the SAFF Championship and we have some players in the current squad who were part of the triumph — five of them. I hope their experience of playing with the senior national team will add to the confidence of the side, and make others comfortable and encourage everyone to play well in this leg of the qualifiers.

“We were happy with the qualifying rounds of the Asian Cup wherein we played the Asian Champions (Qatar) twice on their own ground. We just conceded one goal which shows that India is becoming strong defensively. We were organised, and disciplined. We have also qualified for the third round in the Asian Cup qualifiers, and expect to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023,” he added.

–IANS

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