Intercontinental Cup 2019: Players laud coach Igor Stimac's focus on team's fitness during off-season
The Indian team coached by Igor Stimac will kick off their Intercontinental Cup campaign against Tajikistan on 7 July
The Indian Football Team have begun preparations for the four-nation Intercontinental Cup which will feature Tajikistan, Syria and DPR Korea
India will play their first match, also the opening match of the tournament on 7 July against Tajikistan
The players were askedfocus on their fitness during the off-season so that the team can focus on technical aspects during the preparation camp
Mumbai: The daily routine of the national football team's members, who assembled here on Monday for a preparatory camp after a break, included regular sessions to improve their fitness so that the focus could straightaway shift to technical aspects now. The players have assembled for the camp ahead of the four-nation Intercontinental Cup to be held in Ahmedabad from 7 July.
India play Tajikistan on the opening day, with DPR Korea and Syria being the other two teams. "Coach Igor Stimac and his support staff had drawn up a schedule for every individual player. It was a kind of an off-season, but we had to deal with it as a kind of pre-season for the camp," defender Pritam Kotal was quoted as saying in a media release issued by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
"I never compromised on my fitness schedule (during the break). In fact, I did more. The awareness levels were higher," the defender noted.
Central defender Sandesh Jhingan reckoned that now the players will come back fitter and the coach can focus on technical aspects. "The schedule came from the Professor (Luka Radman), who was very categorical. He highlighted what a player needed to do when he is away from his club, and the national team set-up," he said.
"Now everyone will come back fitter and the coach can work on technical aspects, and on the system, on how we want to play," said Jhingan, who captained the team in the past. He also said that the coach had provided match analysis videos to the players.
"Apart from the physical and technical training schedule, we were also provided match analysis videos by the coach. Emphasis was paid on the quintessential mental part. If you are mentally strong and understand football, it's your biggest strength as a player," he added.
Experienced goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said he has been "working day in day out to stay fitter."
"The camp will be a different one. All are fresh and ready to carry on the momentum of learning the new system, and implement it on the pitch," said Sandhu.
Chhetri scored in the 62nd and 71st minutes after Manvir Singh had given India the lead in the 33rd minute in the must-win match for India
FIFA revealed its detailed plan last month, after meeting with retired players, to redraft the calendar of international football competitions with biennial World Cups for men and women at the heart. The proposal was strongly backed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
India beat Nepal to win the SAFF championship for the eighth time. Here's how twitter celebrated the victory