Igor Stimac needs a win for India in Qatar

Doha (AFP) - Igor Stimac said his goal-shy India will try and wear down Syria and look to hit them late on in a must-win Asian Cup clash on Tuesday.

India face Syria in Qatar with the knockout rounds still a possibility for both teams despite neither yet winning a match or even scoring a goal after two games.

Australia have sealed one of the spots out of Group B but with the top two and possibly even third place also qualifying, it is all to play for. Uzbekistan are second, ahead of Syria and India.

India were beaten 2-0 by Australia and 3-0 by Uzbekistan, but their Croatian coach sees a chance against a “physical” Syria who have relied so far on a small core of players.

“What is interesting about Syria is that they have a short bench, making only two or three changes and are obviously limited from the bench,” said Stimac on Monday.

“We will try to exhaust them and take them to the last 30 minutes and see how fresh they are,” added the coach, who has a full squad to choose from for the first time in Qatar.

If India are to pull off a win and sneak into the last 16, they will need veteran talisman Sunil Chhetri to start firing.

The striker has 93 international goals, behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among active players.

“Come the Syria game I hope we can fix this problem,” the 39-year-old told reporters of India’s lack of goals.

“And the next time I see you, I can say we did fix this problem.”

Syria sit third in the group with one point from a 0-0 stalemate with Uzbekistan and are hoping to make the knockouts for the first time.

Their veteran Argentine coach Hector Cuper told his men to seize the moment.

“Qualifying for the last 16 will be historic for the Syria national team and we hope to bring joy to the Syrian people through qualifying,” he said.

But he warned his players against wilting under the pressure of expectations.

“All the players and coaching team know the importance of this match and the pressure on the players,” he said.

“But when you are under more pressure it means you are trying to defend the image of your country.

“As a coaching team we don’t want to put more pressure on them, we want lift the pressure actually.

“The players are optimistic and smiling, and want to do something for their country.”