NEW DELHI: Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac has expressed his displeasure over his wards losing possession of the ball at crucial junctures of a game.
Following up their triumph in the Intercontinental Cup, India have reached the semifinals of the SAFF Championship, and Lebanon stand in their way in the last-four clash.
"There's not much to complain about. We need to improve in those moments of the game when our focus and concentration needs to be at the highest possible level and try not to give away anything," said Stimac.
"The part I'm not satisfied with is when we give away simple passes without any pressure because, after that, you need to waste an enormous amount of energy to get the ball back with the high press that we do.
"Overall, I'm very happy with the boys. They are coming very close to the level where I want them to be," he added.
The match against Kuwait may have ended in heartbreak for the Blue Tigers, who were on their way to victory until an Anwar Ali own goal led to a share of points, but Stimac said that the result has, in no way, dampened the spirits in the camp.
"We are improving from game to game. We have a great mood whenever we step out on the training pitch," said Stimac.
"We knew that some time or the other, we were going to concede a goal. We didn't expect it would happen with an own goal in the last minute. But that's part of football, and you need to accept it."
There was plenty of drama on and off the pitch in the final 10 minutes of the game, which saw three red cards – two for India (Stimac and Rahim Ali) and one for Kuwait (Hamad Al-Qallaf).
The late equaliser led to theatrical reactions from the visitors' bench, which rejoiced by making aggressive gestures towards the Indian dugout.
"The important thing is that we dominated Kuwait in all aspects of the game. So, I'm really happy with the boys. We are now preparing for the semi-finals, and everything is going to be okay and in place there," said the former Croatia international.
The Blue Tigers have put that result behind, and the sole focus is now on the semifinal against Lebanon on Saturday.
After already facing the Cedars twice in the Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar earlier this month, including in the final, India will head into the clash with confidence.
According to the latest FIFA men's rankings released on Thursday, India have risen by one place to 100 courtesy of their Intercontinental Cup triumph.
"I'm happy with the news, but we need to cement that position in our next few games," said Stimac. Agencies