DUBAI: Indian football team head coach Igor Stamic is looking at the two upcoming international friendlies as an opportunity for youngsters to gain as much experience as they can, asserting that they are not "obsessed with the results".
The average age of the squad currently at the camp in Dubai is just over 24. There are 12 of them who are below 25, and a couple of them are barely 19.
"There are many players, who are with us for the first time and are very young. Obviously, we are not going to put all of them to play at the same time, we are not going to take such a risk. We need to be very careful with them. They are our future. We need to rely on them, they showed in the past seasons that they can play good football... I hope they will use this chance to settle better and this will boost their confidence," Stimac said in a virtual press conference.
India take on Oman in Dubai on March 25 in the first of two international friendlies, with the second match against the UAE slated for March 29.
Stimac also stated that he was excited to watch the Indian Super League (ISL) and seeing young players playing fearless football.
"I was very excited watching the ISL last season and seeing so many young players coming through well, developing their game and not having any fear making decisions and doing really well... To answer what we are expecting from the upcoming two games is that I expect our players to get more experience, no more than that. We are not obsessed with the results. What I want from the players is to have the freedom to express themselves on the field and not to feel any kind of pressure. Getting experience from such games is the most important thing for them at the moment," he said.
Reflecting on the upcoming friendly, the head coach said: "I think it is going to be an interesting game. We have seen Oman playing and they are really physical side, well-organised and they are patient in their game. So, we need to find a way to match that style."
Sandesh Jhingan also took part in the press conference and said that playing for the country is the greatest honour for any player.
"Really happy (to be with the national team). It is the greatest honour for any footballer or for any human being when you get a chance to represent your nation. If you ask Oman or UAE, they will also look at us as tough opponents... That shows how far we have come. The more we play against them, the more confidence we get and they also get the confidence. So, it is a win-win for both teams to play friendlies and get ready for major tournaments," he said.
While many find it difficult to stay in a bio-secure bubble amid the coronavirus pandemic, Jhingan expressed a varying opinion saying that he does not mind staying in the bubble as there is less travel between the games.
"I think everyone has a different opinion but for me, it has been pretty cool, to be honest. Not to travel after a game, in normal season you play a game and then you travel six-seven hours to get to the other state. So, it is a lot of hassle for me. I think it was the best thing to stay in one city and play all the games," he said.