New Indian coach Stimac calls for better comms as he bids to wake up a ‘sleeping giant’

May 24 – India’s newly-appointed coach Igor Stimac has called for better communication between the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and I-League clubs in the ongoing tussle between the two parties over the future of the Indian game.

The Croat has been leading a training camp for national team hopefuls in New Delhi in preparation for the Kings Cup in Thailand in June. In May, Stimac was appointed to succeed Stephen Constantine as coach of India in a two-year deal. The nomad English coach had led India to the Asian Cup in January, but despite an exciting 4-1 win against Thailand, India crashed out in the group stages leading to Contstantine’s resignation.

The new coach has been quick to wade in to the contentious issue of a future roadmap for the Indian game which has stagnated in the past years burdened by the divide between the I-League and the ISL. In April some I-League clubs refused to participate in the Super Cup over what they perceived to be the federation’s obstinacy. Stimac diplomatically called for better communication.

“I-League has something that ISL can’t have – tradition,” said Stimac. “You can’t buy tradition. The Indian Super League is more competitive stuff. I-League is where the new young players are. It’s good for me. I am not going to say how it will work. But my opinion will be there. Any conflict is not helping.”

“The situation of the leagues is not a conflict or war. It’s about being together. We need a positive environment and the right quality and quantity of matches. The way the games are played is important.”

Stimac was picked from a shortlist of coaches that included Hakan Ericson and Albert Roca. He impressed the AIFF with his knowledge of the Indian game.

As a coach, he qualified his native Croatia for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He has high ambition for India, calling the country a “sleeping giant” and saying he hopes “to do great things” with the Blue Tigers.

“I watched nearly all the matches from the last season from the ISL,” said Stimac. “I have been informed about most of the players from the Indian Arrows and the successful 2017 India U-17 World Cup team. I have also been informed about some of the young players who are not playing so much but they shown great capacity.”

On June 5 India will play Curacao in Buriram. The winner will meet the hosts Thailand or Vietnam three days later in the final of the tournament.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1560688733labto1560688733ofdlr1560688733owedi1560688733sni@o1560688733fni1560688733