Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: The All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday named Croatian World Cupper Igor Stimac as the Head Coach of the Senior National Team on a two-year contract.
Stimac comes with an experience of over 18 years in coaching, structuring, and developing Football and players in Croatia, and internationally.He comes in place of Stephen Constantine, whose tenure ended in January after the AFC Asian Cup.
According to the chairman of the AIFF’s Technical Committee Shyam Thapa “ Stimac’s appointment was unanimous.”
“All the members of the Technical Committee including the AIFF Technical Director Mr. Isac Doru were immensely impressed, and convinced about him being best suited for the job. He is a World Cupper, and has guided Croatia to World Cup as a coach. Who else could have been a better candidate?” he said. “He also impressed us with his extensive research on Indian Football.”
Stimac’s first assignment will be the Kings Cup in Buriram, Thailand where the Blue Tigers play Curacao in their first match on June 5.
Hailing the appointment of Stimac , AIFF chief Praful Patel said: “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.”
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das opined “Indian Football would benefit immensely under Igor Stimac. 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,” .
As a Coach, Stimac’s major achievement was guiding Croatia to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014. During his tenure as the National Coach of Croatia, he handed National Team debuts to the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Ante Rebic, Alen Halilovic, and Ivan Perisic, amongst others.
He also played a pivotal role in developing likes of Dario Srna, Daniel Subasic, Ivan Strinic, Kovacic, Perisic, and other players.
His last assignment was with Al-Shahania Club in Qatar.
As a player, he was part the of the Croatia National squad which finished third in the FIFA World Cup France 1998, and a member of the Croatia National squad which qualified for the quarterfinals of the UEFA European Championship 1996 (Euro) in England.
Besides, he was also a part of the Yugoslavia U-19 National Team which won the FIFA U-20 World Cup Chile 1987.