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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

World Cup Qualifiers: Igor Stimac says he will resign if India fail to reach third round

Stimac, who has been at the helm since 2019, last year received a contract extension that will keep him in charge until June 2026

PTI Guwahati Published 25.03.24, 05:08 PM
Igor Stimac

Igor Stimac File photo

Head coach Igor Stimac on Monday said he will resign from the post if the Indian football team fails to reach the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Stimac has prioritised qualification to the third round and secure a direct entry into the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.

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"If I don't take India to the third round I will leave, with my pride, with my honour on everything that was done here in the five years of work. I will leave my position to someone else," Stimac told reporters on the eve of India's home leg match against Afghanistan here.

India can still advance to the third round but the task has got a lot tougher following last week's stalemate in the away leg against Afghanistan, from which they gained only a point.

The Blue Tigers currently stand second in the group with four points from three games, one ahead of Kuwait, who are on three points from as many matches. India have never reached the third of the Qualifiers.

Stimac, who has been at the helm since 2019, last year received a contract extension that will keep him in charge until June 2026.

He said that he was not surprised by Afghanistan's good show against India as several of their players ply their trade in Europe.

Wants longer preparatory camps ==================== Stimac also called for longer preparatory camps for the national squad ahead of big tournaments.

He said that whenever a long preparatory camp was conducted the results were good.

"In my four years there were three long camps that we had. One was five years ago right here prior to games against Oman and Qatar, you remember how well the team played that time.

"Second was for the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in Kolkata, the team was flying -- 3 games, 3 wins, 8-1 goal difference. Third long camp was last year prior to the tournaments that we played brilliantly, could see the intensity and everyone knew what they had to do." Not enough Indian strikers ================= He expressed concerns at the dearth of new strikers in the ISL, saying most of the players occupying the position in the Indian Super League are from abroad.

"Scoring problem has been haunting us for five years, even before I came here the scoring problem was haunting us. I have mentioned that foreign players are occupying scoring positions and that is hurting us.

"It is not easy for them as most of them are not playing their positions at the club this season, apart from Sunil." Stimac also said that there were some important lessons learnt from the disappointing campaign in the AFC Asian Cup, where India lost all the three matches.

"We need to minimise silly mistakes. In the game against Uzbekistan, we controlled the match well but the mistakes that we committed, they scored due to those. We have to learn to punish the opposition for their mistakes, that we have to learn."

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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