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Coach Stimac's fitness regime draws players appreciation

Mumbai (PTI): The daily routine of the national football team's members, who assembled here on Monday for a preparatory camp after a break, included regular sessions to improve their fitness so that the focus could straightaway shift to technical aspects now.

The players have assembled for the camp ahead of the four-nation Intercontinental Cup to be held in Ahmedabad from July 7 at the EKA Arena. India play Tajikistan on the opening day, with DPR Korea and Syria being the other two teams.

"Coach (Igor) Stimac and his support staff had drawn up a schedule for every individual player. It was a kind of an off-season, but we had to deal with it as a kind of pre-season for the camp," defender Pritam Kotal was quoted as saying in a media release issued by the All India Football Federation.

"I never compromised on my fitness schedule (during the break). In fact, I did more. The awareness levels were higher," the defender noted.

Central defender Sandesh Jhingan reckoned that now the players will come back fitter and the coach can focus on technical aspects.

"The schedule came from the Professor (Luka Radman), who was very categorical. He highlighted what a player needed to do when he is away from his club, and the national team set-up," he said.

"Now everyone will come back fitter and the coach can work on technical aspects, and on the system, on how we want to play," said Jhingan, who captained the team in the past. He also said that the coach had provided match analysis videos to the players.

Apart from the physical and technical training schedule, we were also provided match analysis videos by the coach. Emphasis was paid on the quintessential mental part. If you are mentally strong, and understand football, its your biggest strength as a player," he added.

Experienced custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu admitted: "I did see my family, but haven't taken a break after the King's Cup. I have been working day in day out to stay fitter," he smiled.

"The camp will be a different one. All are fresh and ready to carry on the momentum of learning the new system, and implement it on the pitch," said Sandhu.

When asked if it was a bit tough, especially with not being able to devote much time for the family, defender Pritam said: "Not at all. I enjoyed the break, spent quality time with my family, stayed with them. But I never compromised on my fitness schedule. In fact, I did more. The awareness levels were higher."

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