India will again look up to the talismanic Sunil Chhetri when they open their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Oman in Guwahati on Thursday in coach Igor Stimac's biggest test so far.
A member of the Croatian team that reached the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup, Stimac is undoubtedly one of the most high-profile names to have managed India, but the start hasn't been impressive.
A third-place finish in the King's Cup in Thailand was followed by an uninspiring outing in the Intercontinental Cup at home where Stimac experimented. The task is only going to get tougher in the coming months and the Croat is aware of the challenges facing his currently 103-ranked side.
He has acknowledged that Oman, along with Qatar, are the two strong favourites in the group.
"Realistically, Qatar and Oman are the favourites in our group. We have never won an official (World Cup qualifying) match against either of them. So it's not going to be easy at all. In Guwahati, we are going to give everything on the pitch, aiming to win it," Stimac said.