Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz has praised the Indian football team after their historic 4-1 win over Thailand in the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
India had a poor record in the tournament before their 2019 opener, having lost six of their last seven games, conceding 20 goals. The Blue Tigers have qualified for the tournament only for the fourth time in history and were nowhere near being favourites to win against Thailand.
However, the talismanic Sunil Chhetri scored twice, while Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua also found the back of the net as the Indians upset the Thai team.
Queiroz, who rose to fame as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant manager at Manchester United, said that India have improved a lot in the last couple of years.
“It is a completely different team since we played them,” he told the AIFF in an interview published on Sportskeeda. Iran had beaten India comfortably in Bengaluru (0-3) and Tehran (0-4) during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in 2015 and 2016.
“The India team has made great progress [since then],” the Portuguese said.
“It is a brilliant win and a very good performance. I would like to congratulate not only coach [Stephen] Constantine but the entire team and the supporters. It has been a fantastic result for the team.
“When you perform like this in the first game of the Asian Cup, it only shows that you are going in the right direction,” he added.
India have the second-youngest team at the Asian Cup, after Vietnam, and Queiroz feels that’s the right way forward.
“When we need to prepare the team for the future, you can’t do it without the fresh pair of legs,” said the 65-year-old, who has coached the national teams of South Africa and Portugal in the past.
“If you are trying to take the national team forward, you need to think about the present, as well as take care of the future. If you don’t do that you only get stagnated,” he added.
India’s next group match is against hosts UAE on Thursday.