Buriram: Indian football team's head coach Igor Stimac believes the King's Cup, scheduled to begin June 5 in Thailand, will be tough for Blue Tigers.
"The weather conditions will be difficult. This being the off-season, the situation is tough. But at the same time, it is the same for everyone. We're here to win, and do our best," Stimac said on the team's arrival.
India will take on Curacao in the curtain-raiser at the Chang Arena. The clash will mark Blue Tigers' return to the King's Cup after a gap of 38 years.
"The boys are confident, and have understood that they can improve their game with hard work on a daily basis," Stimac said.
"I appreciate the hard work put in by the players over the last 10 days in New Delhi. I expect them to implement their learnings from practice in the upcoming tournament," he added.
This will be Stimac's first international assignment after his appointment as the new coach, as much it will mark another historic landmark for Indian football with stalwart Sunil Chhetri poised to become the most-capped player for the national team.
The talismanic forward currently has 107 caps to his name, keeping him tied with former captain and striker Bhaichung Bhutia.
Central midfielder Pronoy Halder complemented Stimac saying that the coach has been constantly reminding the Blue Tigers that they can bridge the gap with the top nations.
"The coach keeps saying to us that if we listen to him, and execute it on the field, we can go a long way. The most significant part stays that all the players have taken it in the right spirit," Halder said.
"We understand Curacao is a very strong team as most of their players at playing in premier divisions across Europe. That is providing us with the extra motivation to prove a point. We will give our 100 per cent," he added.
Following is the 23-man Indian squad for the King's Cup:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Kamaljit Singh
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Subhasish Bose
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Pronay Halder, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul, Amarjit Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Michael Soosairaj
Forward: Balwant Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary, Manvir Singh
King's Cup is a FIFA-sanctioned international 'A' tournament being organised by the Football Association of Thailand since 1968. India's previous participation in the tournament was in 1977.
Apart from India, Curacao and the host Thailand, Vietnam will also compete. According to the April 2019 FIFA rankings, India is ranked at 101, Thailand at 114, Vietnam at 98 and Curacao at 82....