India football coach Igor Stimac on Tuesday said the young players in the national side will be given ample chances to prove themselves at the international level as he looks to build a team for the future.
The Indian team is currently training ahead of the FIFA friendlies against Oman and UAE.
The average age of the squad currently at the camp in Dubai is just over 24. Among them, 12 are below 25, and a couple of them are barely 19.
“It’s fantastic to see guys at 19, 20, 21, 23 making it to the national squad. We are trying to build on the FIFA U-17 World Cup, and develop their knowledge,” Stimac said during the ongoing preparatory camp.
“We are trying to make sure that in the next four years they become ready to play against the best, and win against them. It’s a long process in football, and it takes time.”
India take on Oman in Dubai on 25 March in the first of two international friendlies, with the second match against the UAE slated for 29 March.
“The young guns proved it in Indian Super League this season. It’s now for them to prove at the international level. I will give them the chance to do so.
“What we are doing here is trying to make them relax, and explain to them that there is no reason for fear at the international level. They need to be themselves and prove to the world that they can play against the best,” Stimac said.
“There is no reason for anyone to feel scared or have any kind of fear. Not a single player will be eliminated for one or two mistakes but we are trying to work on not to repeat them.”
However, Stimac also said that “it’s a revolving door.”
“You need to perform and get selected. Age is never a bar for anyone to be in the squad. If you are good enough, you are never old enough.”
The average age of the Blue Tigers at the 2019 Asian Cup was 25.
“We have 6-7 youngsters who can fight, who can chase, and pass the ball without any fear. 11 of the boys who are at the camp have come from the AIFF youth development programme,” Stimac said in an AIFF release.
“I’m really happy that these projects have been so successful, and are bringing a brighter future to Indian football.”