Bhubaneswar, June 11 () Indian men’s football team head coach Igor Stimac feels that hot and humid conditions here would give hosts an advantage in their Intercontinental Cup match against Vanuatu at the Kalinga Stadium on Monday.
The host India saw off Mongolia 2-0 in their tournament opener on Friday, while Vanuatu went down 1-3 to Lebanon.
As things stand, India will confirm their place in the final on Monday itself, should they win against Vanuatu and Mongolia fail to win against Lebanon in their game.
“The weather does make a lot of impact on the pitch, but we need to be honest that we have an advantage in that sense because we’ve already trained here for more than three weeks. With what we saw in the Vanuatu-Lebanon match, a few players went off injured in the first half, so it’s clear that it will be difficult for them to cope in such conditions,” Stimac was quoted as saying by AIFF.
While the senior men’s team is set to face Vanuatu for the first time, the India U-18 side has previously toured Vanuatu in 2019, beating the hosts 1-0 en route to winning the OFC Youth Development Tournament in Port Vila.
From the current India squad, left-back Akash Mishra was the only one who travelled to the Southern Pacific nation with that batch.
Sharing his thoughts on the possible challenge posed by the 164-ranked Vanuatu side, Stimac said: “We took everything (about Vanuatu) from the game they played against Lebanon. It’s obvious that they are a physical side. They have their strengths and weaknesses, so we need to get ready for such a game.”
On the other hand, despite the defeat against Lebanon, Vanuatu head coach Etienne Mermer was proud of his side and had encouraging words to say.
“We knew it was going to be difficult against a tough side like Lebanon, but it was a good game. Being here is a great experience for the Vanuatu team. We’ve never played teams like India, Lebanon and Mongolia before. It’s always challenging to play in Asia,” Mermer said.
“It’s an outstanding stadium here. It’s a new experience for the boys to play on such pitches. We don’t have facilities like these back in Vanuatu. We’re really enjoying it here and are looking forward to facing India on Monday,” he added.