There was no shortage of support for the Indian senior men's team when they landed at the airport on Monday night ahead of the 49th King's Cup 2023. Officials of the Consulate of India in Chiang Mai and many Indian locals welcomed the Blue Tigers. They greeted the players with garlands and 'Chak de India!' chants which was a brilliant surprise for the Indian squad. Igor Stimac's side will face Iraq on 7th September to make a place for themselves in the Final.
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It was a rainy day in the Chiang Mai. "I like such weather. I played in England for six years and enjoyed the weather, but in England, it's not as hot as here," Igor Stimac said. "The rain might help refresh our players' legs and brains. But the weather and the quality of the pitch are the same for everyone. There will be no advantages in regard to that (against Iraq). We are both playing on the foreign soil," Stimac added.
7th September will also see Igor Stimac turning 56. "My birthday is coming. I hope they can bring some joy to my birthday against Iraq," laughs Stimac.
Igor Stimac cannot wait for his first training session on Tuesday. "I missed them a lot. Now I'll see how much they missed me."
The Blue Tigers will not have much time to settle in ahead of the big game against Iraq and some players are returning after the Durand Cup final. "Congratulations to those who won the final on Sunday. We need to get ready. We don't have much time. Obviously, there's work for us to do with some of the boys fatigued after the final. So we are going to be careful organising regeneration sessions for them and working with and preparing the rest of the boys who are fresh," states Stimac.
The King's Cup semi-final will be India's 12th match of the year and the first one abroad. Stimac expressed his gratitude for the crowd support received in Imphal, Bhubaneswar, and Bengaluru. So when asked if he had any message he'd like to give to the fans back home in India, Stimac said – "I love you all!"