Indian footballers Rahul Bheke and Brandon Fernandes says newly-appointed chief coach Igor Stimac wants the team to be one of Asia’s best. Stimac’s appointment has been greeted with much optimism by the players, with as many as nine debutants having got a call-up to the national team camp. Bheke, who scored the match-winner in the Indian Super League final for his club Bengaluru FC against FC Goa stated that “Stimac wants us to be one of the best teams in Asia”. “We have had a couple of session under him (Igor Stimac), and he is really apprehensive of our abilities as a team. He wants us to target doing well in Asian tournaments, and be one of the best teams in Asia,” Bheke said.

“I will keep doing what the coach asks of me and keep trying to work my socks off in his pattern of style of playing football.” FC Goa player Fernandes also highlighted Stimac’s desire to be “among the best in Asia”. “He comes with rich experience. With his experience, I feel it was the right choice to appoint him. He has already shared that he wants us from us,” Brandon said. “I always knew I was going to get a chance to represent India again,” Brandon said.

“There are ups and downs in a player’s life. I did not lose any hope when I was not called up. In fact, that motivated me to keep working hard to earn a call-up. I am very happy, but the real challenge for me begins now.” Stimac has been conducting fitness tests, along with some footballing drills, which the players enjoyed.
Speaking about his personal challenge, Bheke said that he is “looking forward to making an impact, and do well with the National team. I have been called for the first time. So I need to make the most out of it, and not let this opportunity slip”.

The squad will be training in the capital till June 1 and leave for Buriram, Thailand the following day. India have been drawn to play Curacao in their first match of the King’s Cup on June 5.