Imphal: Though they only need a draw to secure the title, hosts India will go all out against the Kyrgyz Republic in the third and last game of the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament at the Khuman Lampak Stadium here on Tuesday.
The Blue Tigers started their campaign with a slender 1-0 win over Myanmar last Wednesday, with Anirudh Thapa’s strike late in the first half making all the difference in a match with plenty of chances and close shaves.
In the second game of the tournament, the Kyrgyz Republic snatched a 1-1 draw against Myanmar, with Kairat Zhyrgalbek Uulu equalising for the Central Asians with virtually the last kick of the game.
Trailing the hosts, the Kyrgyz Republic require a win against India to claim the trophy, while a draw will be enough for the hosts.
However, the Blue Tigers’ head coach Igor Stimac said in the pre-match press conference that his side will only be going for a win. “We will go all out to win. We have a full house with our supporters and a chance to prove ourselves. It will also be a much stronger team than the first game.
“I was right when I said Myanmar is a serious side that can hurt you. We saw that against the Kyrgyz Republic. It will, of course, be a different challenge against the Kyrgyz side because they don’t have any option but to come out and win,” said Stimac, who expects an attacking contest from both sides tomorrow.
Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, who started in the 1-0 win over Myanmar, accompanied Stimac in Monday’s press conference and shared his thoughts on his performance.
“I always try to do my best whenever I get the chance. Coach gives me a lot of confidence on and off the pitch. I work hard in training, rest well, sleep well and eat well. I’m happy with my performance and I want to keep it up,” he said.
Stimac was all praise for the custodian as well. He said, “I have a lot of confidence in Amrinder. He had top reactions and eliminated every danger. He has always done well in the few games he’s played under me — against Thailand (1-0), Oman (1-1) and now Myanmar (1-0).”
The India coach also informed that Sahal Abdul Samad has joined the national team camp in Imphal ahead of Tuesday’s game. “Sahal is here with us as we have a couple of injuries. He will be another option for us.”
The Kyrgyz Republic head coach Alexander Krestinin expressed his disappointment with his side’s opening-match result against Myanmar, even mentioning that they might’ve taken the game a bit casually.
“We reviewed the game (against Myanmar). A lot of things didn’t go as planned. We have also analysed India’s matches and will look to correct our previous mistakes tomorrow. We will make some changes in the team,” said Krestinin.
The Russian has been in charge of the Kyrgyz side since 2014 and faced India twice during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign (a 2-1 win at home and a 0-1 loss away). But he stated that those results will have no bearing on tomorrow’s encounter.
“The previous games against India don’t affect our preparations for tomorrow. Now, there are many new faces on both sides and it will be a different sort of game,” said Krestinin.