National football team head coach Igor Stimac on Wednesday said his players have been doing a good job with the possession-based style of play but need improvement in some areas.

Speaking during an international virtual coaching conference organised by the All India Football Federation, Stimac said the 4-2-3-1 formation is the “best system for Indian football.”

“We are really proud of the players how they have executed their job so far. They have been doing the right job. There has been an overall improvement,” Stimac said.

Talking about the playing style, the 1998 Fifa World Cup bronze medal-winning Croatian said, “We have had to adapt to a system where players play more with the ball. We have switched to 4-2-3-1 where the game starts from the goalkeeper and the centre-backs play a major role in controlling the game.

“There are connected movements and players need to be intelligent to make quick decisions. Full-backs need to make a run forward so they find free spaces in between and hurt the opponent. They need to learn to run behind the opponent backline. Even wingers can come inside and fullbacks go to the side-lines to utilise free space.”

Stimac, who coached Croatia to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, said wingers need to show greater character on the pitch.

“Number of passes as well as the duration of playing with the ball has gone up significantly. We are constantly working on improving the numbers and raising the bar,” he said.

“In order to improve our passing, we throw in our players to small-sided games. It improves players’ passing accuracy and their movements after passing the ball. We need our wingers to be more confident in 1-1 positions. Ashique and Udanta are the quickest guys in our team. Now, we need to work harder to improve their crossing.”

The Indian team is out of contention for a 2022 Fifa World Cup berth and Stimac said qualifying for the 2023 Asian Cup is the current target.

“Our short-term goal is to qualify for the next AFC Asian Cup which will grow our confidence and then advance further. Our long-term goal is obviously to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.”