Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri on Friday asked his teammates to learn from the mistakes they made during the previous match and try to rectify them in their must-win game against North Korea in the Intercontinental Cup.
Chhetri, who grabbed a brace in India’s 2-4 loss in the opening game against Tajikistan on July 7, said that the whole team was working hard to bounce back from the defeat and stressed on the importance of keeping calm.
“We need to learn from all the mistakes in the Tajikistan game and try to rectify them as much as possible. Individually, as well as collectively, we are all working hard on that. The most important thing is to keep calm and put your head down and work,” he said.
“No one else is going to help you, which means we have to pick ourselves up and give a good account of ourselves against DPR Korea to churn out a positive result,” Chhetri said at the match-eve press conference.
He said the team was “enjoying” the new style of play based on possession football introduced by head coach Igor Stimac.
“The majority of our focus is on keeping the ball. There are a lot of movements and players asking for the ball. Of course, at times, we have to put safety first and we cannot be passing in defence all the time needlessly,” said the country’s most capped player.
“Eventually, whether it works or not, only time will tell, but I can say that I am enjoying this style and all the players are enjoying as well. The more we are in sync with the coach, it is better for us and we will back him in all his plans for the team,” he added.
Stimac had stated that the Intercontinental Cup was part of preparation for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers that begin in September.
With the team having faced Curacao and Thailand previously at the King’s Cup and now playing Tajikistan, DPR Korea and Syria, Chhetri stated that playing such opposition will “make the team stronger”.
“The level of opposition is really good. I don’t remember the last time we played five countries of this quality together. We might lose some and might win some but these are the games you want to target,” the captain said.
“Unless you play these teams, you never know where you stand. We’ll certainly be stronger after these games and they are important if we want to go to the next level.”
Chhetri also said these set of games is crucial for the coach to pick his set of first-choice players for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
“The two games in Thailand and three here have been really crucial. We are understanding what the coach wants from us exactly and this tournament is a progression where he is still looking for first 18-23 set of players,” he said.