Ahmedabad, July 6 (IANS) New Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac has said that he wants to define the future of the sport in the country as his team gets ready to start their defence of the Intercontinental Cup when they take on Tajikistan here on Sunday.
The four-nation tournament also has Syria and North Korea.
All teams will be playing each other once, with the top two teams making it to the final, slated for July 17.
Speaking at the pre-tournament press conference, Stimac, who had coached Croatia to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 said: "We have a new team and our focus is on progressing our game. We are here to win the tournament. But that's not the first priority. I will not be putting too much pressure on the players for results. But will be looking at how the players respond to certain situations on the field."
"The time we have to work is limited. We cannot afford to waste even a second. The fact that we gave so many debuts in Thailand (at the King's Cup 2019) shows clearly that we are looking at the future of Indian football," the coach added. "We are one of the youngest national teams in the world."
"We play football for the supporters, and even if results suffer, we will keep trying developing our style. We are placing faith and giving chances to young players with good technical abilities. I am happy that the players are learning very fast. The process will take time. I will do everything I can to make sure that we succeed," he said.
India will be heading into the meet on the back of the King's Cup in Thailand, where they finished third.
This will also mark Stimac's second assignment since taking over as the head coach from Stephen Constantine.
This is the first time Gujarat will be hosting a senior men's international competition.
"Ahmedabad is a splendid choice to host the tournament. It's a wise decision as it will help expand football across all parts of the country. I have trained in the city recently for my club. I hope that people will come out in large numbers, support us, and create a special atmosphere," defender Sandesh Jhingan said.
Stimac urged the fans to turn up in large numbers. "We would love to see many fans at the stadium. Everyone who has India in their heart, and wants to see India at the top -- we need your support."