Who is India's new football coach, Igor Stimac?
On Wednesday, Croatian football legend Igor Stimac was roped in as the coach of the Indian men's national football team, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced. He will replace Stephen Constantine, who coached India from 2015 till 2019. Notably, Stimac had played as a defender for the Croatian team that finished third in the FIFA World Cup 1998. Here's more about Igor Stimac.
Stimac has been coaching football teams for the past 18 years. He was the coach of Croatian national side from 2012-13 and helped them qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. He has also worked as a scout and manager in association football, having last managed Qatar's Al Shahania from 2016-17. This would be his second stint as the national coach.
"Igor is the right candidate to coach the Blue Tigers. I welcome him on board. Indian Football is going through a transition, and I am confident his vast experience will guide us to higher echelons," said AIFF President Praful Patel.
Speaking about his credentials, Stimac comes with a bagful of playing experience. Having played 322 games for seven clubs, he scored 17 goals as a defender. He also had two fruitful stints with English clubs Derby County (1995-99) and West Ham United (1999-01). While he was a part of Yugoslavia U20, he later played for Croatia, scoring a couple of goals in 53 matches.
Stimac has, to date, managed seven sides to date, including his stint with Croatia. However, he hasn't stayed with any of the sides for more than a year.
"His credentials as a coach, and experience as a player are sure to add immense value to the players, and the Indian Football ecosystem. The momentum gained needs to be sustained," AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said.
Following his appointment, Stimac, along with the Indian team, would start preparations for the upcoming Kings Cup in Thailand. India are scheduled to play Curacao in their opening game on June 5. It would be followed by the Intercontinental Cup in July, which would see India playing against Syria, Tajikistan and North Korea, while India are the defending champions.