Igor Stimac believes that the nation sees that football in India has a bright future, after the heroic performance in the 2022 AFC U23 qualifiers. In spite of the spirited fight and finishing at second place in the group stage, the colts are unlikely to qualify for the main tournament.
The Indian junior team kick-started their AFC U23 Asian Cup campaign on a high, with them beating Oman 2-1 in their opener. The result sent sparks across the nation, as they had a great opportunity to qualify for the main tournament for the first time ever.
However, a narrow 0-1 loss to UAE in the next match almost shattered their dreams. However, the team had to defeat the Kyrgyz Republic in the last group stage match to stay in contention for qualification. Even though India managed to beat their rivals via a penalty-shootout and finished at the second spot, they failed to qualify for the main event.
Only four best second-placed teams were handed a ticket to the continental meet, in Uzbekistan, next year. On those criteria, India is unlikely to make the cut, with now placed at the ninth spot among the second-placed teams. Despite the result, India’s coach Igor Stimac feels believes that India deserves to qualify and football in India has a bright future.
"We still have hopes to qualify for the finals. The boys absolutely deserve it. Everyone in India sees that we have a bright future ahead," said Igor Stimac.