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Stimac praises players for SAFF success
Head coach Igor Stimac lavished praise on the national team players for clinching the SAFF Championship title in Male (Maldives), but said that the victory wasn’t a great achievement considering India’s supreme record in the regional competition
India earned its eighth SAFF crown on Saturday after defeating Nepal 3-1 in the summit clash, thanks to goals from skipper Sunil Chhetri, Suresh Singh Wangjam and Sahal Abdul Samad.
“I am happy for the players. They worked hard in difficult circumstances. We did whatever we could,” Stimac told reporters at a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
“There was a lot of pressure on our shoulders, after the results in the first two (round-robin) matches. In the end, we won the trophy. I don’t consider it as a special success as India has usually done well at the SAFF Championship. We demonstrated that we are the dominant force in the region,” said Stimac.
“The togetherness, energy, positive attitude and great mindset of the players were amazing to see. I know that we were the favourite going into the tournament, but we had a few problems in the beginning. We did not have much time to prepare when compared to the other teams,” added Stimac.
The Croat also had good things to say about Chennaiyin FC’s young forward Rahim Ali, who was a member of the SAFF Championship-winning squad and will be involved at the upcoming AFC Qualifiers in the UAE with the Under-23 team.
“Rahim has showed us in recent matches that we can count on him in the future. He is a great boy with great energy and speed. He has got the strength and can handle pressure well. He has also got power in his legs. It is important for players like him to play in their natural position in the league (Indian Super League),” said Stimac.
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