Indian captain Sunil Chhetri and coach Igor Stimac lamented the injury to young midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam who is set to miss their qualifiers against Oman and Qatar due to a fractured hand.
Amarjit has been a rare regular feature in an otherwise ever-changing Indian line-up under new coach Stimac and was seen as a key cog in the Croatian’s possession-based system.
Chhetri described the midfielder as a live wire and suggested that the team will miss his energy in midfield. “He was our favourite, man,” Chhetri rued.
“I don’t know if he would have started as it’s the coach’s decision, but his energy transmits to each one of us. He was somebody who was the standard for everyone of us in the last 3-4 games we played,” he added.
The Indian captain hailed the Manipuri teenager’s honesty and sincerity and wished for his speedy return.
“When he first came to the team, I felt it was too early. There are boys in the team that train with us and go back but he was a live wire. He is so honest. If you tell him to fight with a wall for three hours and you come back to see he will be fighting with the wall. That’s how he is,” Chhetri stated.
“He was in the hospital and when he was given food, he said he wanted the same food as the player had in the hotel as his recovery starts now. That’s how much dedicated he is,” revealed the Indian skipper.
“I really hope he recovers soon. I told him that the easy games against Qatar and Oman we’re going to play and the difficult ones against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, he’s going to play,” joked the 35-year-old.
Coach Stimac seconded his captain and suggested that Amarjit was in line for a start against Oman had he not suffered the injury.
“Maybe you’ll see tears in my eyes. That’s how important Amarjit is,” Stimac expressed.
“I think he has done well and for sure he would have been starting the game for us. We will now wait for him and I hope to have him back soon,” the manager added.
Stimac felt youngsters bring a much-needed freshness to the side and one of his aims as head coach of Indian football team would be blooding a generation of young players to carry the Indian shirt in the future.
“I always believe in young players because they bring motivation, freshness and fight into the team. That’s what we got to do here. I always wanted to believe in Indian football. Now we have Amarjit, we have Sahal [Abdul Samad], we have Narender [Gahlot] and Anwar [Ali] and Sarthak [Goloui]. Some of you were not happy in the way we conceded goals but a few of you were also proud of the way we played. That is why I was brought here,” he stated.
India play Oman and Qatar in their opening two World Cup qualifiers this week, two games that could have a huge bearing on where India finish in the group. Stimac and Chhetri would be hoping they would be able to cope without the influential presence of Amarjit in midfield.