Igor Stimac has claimed that India are definitely a footballing giant out of its sleep but will take another four years to enter the top 10 in Asia.
Since Stimac’s appointment in 2019, the Indian team has broken into the top 100 in the FIFA rankings for the second time in only three decades.
They’re currently 102 in the FIFA Rankings, and are gearing up for their fifth Asian Cup campaign.
Speaking to AFP, Stimac said that India will need some more time to be in the top 10 in Asia.
“A giant is definitely out of its slumber now,” declared Stimac, before cautioning: “But I reckon it will take us another four years to enter the top 10 in Asia.”
While India qualified for the Asian Cup with three wins from three against Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia and scoring eight goals in the process, they have a mountain to climb in Qatar to get out of the group stages.
India will start their campaign against Australia on January 13, followed by matches against Uzbekistan and Syria.
Stimac wasn’t too pleased with the draw and said it is difficult to expect big results with a short time for preparation.
“We are far from being happy with the draw but it is what it is,” said Stimac.
“With a very short time for preparation it’s difficult to expect great things, but my even greater concern are the injuries to some of our key players.
“Anyway, we are going to give our best and make it very difficult for our opponents.”
‘Role Model’ Sunil Chhetri will have no pressure on him regarding retirement: Stimac
Sunilm Chhetri will once again be donning the captain’s armband and will be India’s talisman for the tournament. At 39 and being in the twilight of his career, Stimac has said there will be no pressure on Chhetri to make a call on his career.
“We are not putting any pressure on him whatsoever,” said Stimac.
“That’s up to him.”
“If he keeps enjoying his game with the same hunger and maintaining such brilliant fitness levels then we are there for him as long as it takes,” he added.
“He is a proper role model for many Indian kids dreaming about becoming football players.”