After an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Oman in the opening match of FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers, Indian team’s Croatian coach Igor Stimac has thrown a sign of warning for his wards ahead of their next match against Qatar.

He said that the match in Doha would not be easy but asserted that it will certainly be a learning experience for the Blue Tigers. “As soon as the Oman match ended, we shifted our focus immediately to the next match. Qatar is the strongest team in the group and playing them will not be easy. However, it’s a great opportunity to learn from,” Stimac was quoted as saying by ANI.

Qatar, which is ranked 62nd in the FIFA rankings, would be 103rd India’s toughest opponents in the qualifiers and to face them the Croatian is planning to replace four-five players from the 11 that started against Oman. He added, “Obviously, we have to change 4-5 players. We’ll see how everyone is feeling. There is no reason to fear and we shall look to score goals and play good football.”

In his bid to reflect the positivity in the Indian dressing room, Stimac said that each and every footballer of the team has learnt their lesson and is now focusing on the job ahead. “The previous match is now history. Everyone is now focusing on the match against Qatar. We have to keep our chins up. We started our preparations the very next day and are now looking forward to starting training here,” he added.

Realizing the fact that it would be tough away match against Qatar, who thrashed Afghanistan 6-0 in their first match, Stimac wants his team to play as a unit. “We are expecting a tough encounter as Qatar are the Asian champions, but we have to stick to our plans, stay compact and play as a team. If we can do that, we can certainly pull off a favourable result,” the 52-year-old added.

The qualifier against Oman saw the Sunil Chetri-led India dominate the first half and play better football to create more chances as compared to their opponents. Securing a 1-0 lead before going into the tunnel for the half-time, India was expected to win the game. However, shaky defending and miscommunication in the middle saw the results turning upside down as Oman went away with crucial three points from an away game.