Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac, who is confident ahead of the game against the UAE, said that in the match against Oman, his side showed that "there is nothing to fear about".
India played against Oman in Dubai on Thursday in the first of the two international friendlies, with the second match against the UAE slated for March 29.
Manvir Singh and Amrinder Singh had played crucial roles for the Blue Tigers in their return to international football after a gap of 492 days, as India was held to a 1-1 draw by Oman at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai, UAE.
"In the second half, we showed that there is nothing to fear about. These are better sides. When you play against teams in the top 100, the difference in 25 to 30 spots in rankings means a lot. There is still a big difference between UAE and us. But that does not mean we cannot achieve the result," the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) website quoted Stimac as saying.
The rankings suggest that while India are currently at 104, the UAE stay strong at 74 while Oman were at 81. The last time India played against the UAE was in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 where the Blue Tigers went down 0-2.
"The match against the UAE will be a different game. I need to give chances to the other players who are here. We have important games coming up in June and we need to assess all the players," Stimac stated hinting there will be quite some changes in the starting XI. India had fielded 10 debutants in the match against Oman.
Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, who kept off a penalty in the first match, said so many youngsters coming is such a healthy sign.
"So many youngsters coming is such a healthy sign. Where else do you have 10 debutants playing an International Friendly? These are signs of transition that define the sport in the country. And if you look back, all of them faced Oman in their first International match. That is very meticulous planning. The experience will only make them better players," he narrated.
"At the International level be it against any team, we need to be physically and mentally fit. The UAE are a physical team too. The lesser mistakes we make the higher chances we have to win it. The team making lesser mistakes will eventually go on to win," Amrinder added.
Striker Manvir Singh, who scored India's equaliser against Oman, stated: "I knew that as a striker I would not be getting many chances. Hence, when Bipin looked up, I sprinted like anything to be in the position to meet the ball. He kept it perfectly, and I managed to head it home. We are high on confidence after drawing against Oman. The UAE are very comfortable with the ball. We are aware that despite the crowd not being there, the UAE will enjoy a psychological advantage as they will be playing at home. But it is not over till it is over."
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, in the pre-match press conference on Sunday, said: "I think it will be a tough game but honestly speaking, the more opportunities that we are getting against teams like these, the less fear we have in our minds... In the last three-four years, we have been playing good games and good oppositions and the fear of playing against these teams has vshed. I think it will be a good game."
( With inputs from ANI )
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