National coach Stimac caring, but demanding too: U-17 World Cupper Aniket Jadhav

India`s U-17 FIFA World Cup star Aniket Jadhav is enjoying his stint under national football coach Igor Stimac and finds the Croatian extremely caring, but at the same time demanding.

Jadhav, 21, is currently part of the Stimac-coached India squad, participating in the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers in the UAE.

“He [Stimac] is someone who is extremely caring, but at the same time extremely demanding. He wants us to be patient all throughout. Life in 90 minutes cannot be at the same pace. A player needs to be patient and wait for the right moment. He has improved me as a player, telling me about my runs, my positioning and even finishing,” Jadhav told mid-day.com.

India football team coach Igor Stimac

The Kolhapur lad is keen to impress his coach and is working towards sealing a place in the India senior team.   

“Ask any player and he will say that he wants to play for the country. But wishes don`t materialise without the right efforts. I need to impress my coach to be allowed a chance to play. At the same time, international football is too physical so we need to work on our physical strength,” explained Jadhav, who recently joined ISL club Hyderabad FC.

India will lock horns with Kyrgyz Republic in a must-win final league tie on Sunday, hoping to qualify for the main event scheduled in Uzbekistan next June.

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Stimac`s boys stunned Oman 2-1 in their opening match before losing 0-1 to UAE.

Jadhav, who spent three months training with English club Blackburn Rovers in 2019, said the team is confident of qualifying for the tournament proper.

“People have been saying that we shocked Oman, but we were confident of beating them. We are looking forward to the game against Kyrgyz Republic, and are confident as much as they are. It will be a good contest,” said Jadhav, who made his World Cup debut in a 0-4 loss to Ghana.

The winger said playing in the World Cup helped his confidence and is grateful for the experience.  

“However, life might change, the entire batch will always carry memories and the gratitude of getting the platform to hone their skills. That was special. The confidence which I acquired during the U-17 World Cup has made me a fearless player,” Jadhav reckoned.

Jadhav, who made his ISL debut with Jamshedpur FC in 2019, credited the AIFF Elite Academy based in Goa for his success. “Whatever I am today is all due to the AIFF academy set-up. Had the academy not been there, I wouldn’t have been here. Maybe I would have given up football by now. The most important part is that we were part of the set-up even after the U-17 World Cup. The Indian Arrows project allowed us sufficient game time and the experience of playing against professional players when we were not even 19. The reunion at the U-23 qualifiers is being enjoyed by all,” he said.

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