Stimac Expects Sahal Abdul Samad to Play Some Part Against Syria

Sahal Abdul Samad
Sahal Abdul Samad (Source: AIFF)

India’s football team aim to cap off their AFC Asian Cup group stage on a high note as they face Syria after back-to-back defeats in the first two games. Igor Stimac and his boys will be boosted by the fact that they will have a full squad to choose from against Syria.

“The last game in the group is obviously crucial,” said Stimac at the pre-match press conference.“We need to win to stand a chance to qualify. We expect to see a good game and a good quality of football… and finally, we have a full squad.”

Stimacwill breathe a sigh of relief that Sahal Abdul Samad, his midfield stalwart, is expected to be in contention for the Syria game. He might be used as an impact substitute. “Sahal might take part in this game,” said Stimac.“He feels good and has had several training sessions, but that doesn’t mean he will start.”

Ahead of the crucial encounter, Stimac waswell aware of the challenges that Syria might pose. “One thing is sure – we are going to face a lot of physicality against this team,” he said. “They have strong boys upfront, good ball holding. The challenge for us will not be less than the first two games. So, the best way to fight will be to escape the contacts and duels. More importantly, we need to strengthen our backline.”

Results didn’t go in favour of Sunil Chhetri and his team in the first two games. When asked about how they were working to boost morale ahead of the game, Stimac replied, “We know what to expect.We’ve noticed they are using the same playing XI, and their options on the bench are limited. We will try to exploit as much as we can, bringing the game to the last 30 minutes.”

Meanwhile, Syria want to go all out against India to give joy to their fans back at home. “We want to achieve something for the country,” said Fahd Youssef, their 36-year-old midfield veteran. “We know that all players recognise how important this game is. Hopefully, the result will be positive. Everybody wants to leave a good impression. I hope the final result will bring happiness to the country.”

Syria also have considerable coaching nous on their side. Hector Cuper, their coach, is one of the greats, having led Valencia to back-to-back Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001.

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