“Hong Kong are a disciplined side but we are ready” – Igor Stimac

India will play their penultimate Group-D game of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers 2023 against Hong Kong today, 14th June, at the VYBK Stadium, Kolkata. 

Both teams will face each other after winning the other two fixtures against Afghanistan and Cambodia. For India, the equation is simple. If they win, they will receive direct qualification for the AFC Asian Cup 2023. If they draw, India will wait to become one of the five best second-placed teams from the six groups.  

In their last five outings, which happened in last two decades, India won and drew once, lost thrice against Hong Kong. 

Ahead of tonight’s decider, here’s what the Indian gaffer, Igor Stimac, said: 

Hong Kong are a disciplined side with a balanced squad

We need to complement Hong Kong for what they have shown in the previous two games. They have a better scoring tally against Cambodia. They are a disciplined side and have enough quality to defend against attacks. However, we have studied their game minutely and identified certain lapses. We want to capitalise on them. There is less pressure on us, but we are not short of hunger to win the game. 

The recovery process doesn’t change, but be reasonable with squad selection

The recovery process doesn’t change. It is about the speed at which every player has the ability to recover, their fitness levels, and their mindset. Of course, the tight schedule has taken a toll, and the weather conditions are not the best. We will screen our players post the practice sessions and see if there are chances of injuries. But who will you rest? Look at the way our boys performed in the last game. They are hungry for more. I love having these characters in the team and want them to play. However, if data suggests that someone needs rest, I as a coach, need to be reasonable. 

Each team is technically different

Every side is technically different. We have to read every team and customize our strategy. Against Cambodia, we did not rush. We kept patience, and kept pushing when we got opportunities. Now against Afghanistan, we knew that they are an aggressive side. We maintained discipline there as well. So we have plans against Hong Kong too, and we will be working on them. 

India will face Hong Kong today at 20:30 IST. The match will be streamed live on Star Sports Network and Jio TV.

For Trial related updates: Latest trials updates in Mumbai Football

Also Read: RBI comes from two goals down to settle for a point against Central Bank of India

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