Defence is a concern, says Indian football coach Stimac

New Delhi: Newly-appointed Indian football team coach Igor Stimac said all players, including talisman Sunil Chhetri, are equal, adding they will have to fight for their place.

Stimac is conducting a training camp at the capital city for the national team probables, ahead of the King’s Cup in Thailand.

“We speak every day. I speak with all our players every day. That’s my approach. I need to do that. I need to get information from them,” Stimac told media persons in his first press conference.

“Of course, Sunil is very valuable to our team. He is a role model to these young players who are knocking on the door. But like others, he needs to fight for a place. We all start from zero. Football is like that. You don’t get anything from the past. You get paid for today’s job. As successful you are today, tomorrow you get your chance once again.”

With less than two weeks to go for Stimac’s first assignment, he stressed he was concerned about the defence, and the lack of options, particularly at centre-back.

“Over the next few months, my job will be to find more competitors for the central defensive positions, which we are short on right now,” said Stimac. The 37-man preliminary squad, which is undergoing a camp at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, will be pruned to 23 by the time the side leaves for Thailand on June 1.

“In the next few days, I have to decide on 2526 players who will be the most valuable for the competition. After that, the squad will be cut to 23.”

Stimac was quizzed on the level of research he had done on India before accepting the job. “I watched almost every Indian Super League game, I have been informed about the young talents from the Indian Arrows. Through my research, I recognised that some players didn’t make it to (Stephen) Constantine’s squad, for whatever reason. But, I’m here to give them the chance,” he responded. The 51-year-old Stimac is optimistic of doing ‘great things’ for Indian football.