Doha: India’s chief football coach Igor Stimac has implemented a “philosophy of playing differently” and the change in strategy is bearing fruit, Afghanistan defender Haroon Amiri has said.
Amiri, a former captain, was referring to the Indian team’s performance in the combined World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers here. India lost to Qatar and beat Bangladesh, and are set to play Afghanistan here on Tuesday.
Amiri, who has played for several Indian clubs and is currently with I-League side Real Kashmir FC, will be marshalling the defence when Afghanistan take on the Sunil Chhetri-led India in the World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers here on Tuesday.
“They are a good team. There has been a lot of change in the squad with so many youngsters coming in. We have noticed that the current coach also has implemented a philosophy of playing differently. India has had some good results in the recent past,” said 31-year-old Amiri, referring to the India-Afghanistan match on Tuesday.
“We watched their match against Qatar with 10-men where it was hard to break them down. There will be a healthy competition when the two teams meet.”
Reduced to 10 men, India conceded only one goal to Asian champions Qatar on June 3. India then beat Bangladesh 2-0 and will take on Afghanistan on Tuesday in the last Group E assignment here.
Amiri said his team, ranked 149th on FIFA rankings, would pose a tough challenge to the 105th-ranked India on Tuesday.
“The current Afghanistan squad is a conglomeration of experience and youth. There are many youngsters in the squad. All of the players play their professional club football outside Afghanistan — in Germany, the USA, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, and even Australia. We have 18-year-old winger Hossein Zamani who is an exceptional talent. He has represented the Netherlands at the youth level but has opted to play for Afghanistan,” he said.
“Zamani is at the Ajax Academy and has already generated a lot of interest among big clubs in Europe including Manchester United. We expect him to take the field in our last match against India.”
Amiri said everyone is looking ahead to this match.
“All the boys are very positive and we expect a very good match. A match against India is always special — the entire country is looking forward to this match, as much we all are.”