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regular-article-logo Friday, 19 April 2024

Igor Stimac plans ahead but future tense

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has not extended national team coach's contract beyond September

Angshuman Roy Calcutta Published 19.06.21, 02:55 AM
Igor Stimac

Igor Stimac File picture

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has not extended national team coach Igor Stimac’s contract beyond September but the Croat has already drawn up plans to prepare Sunil Chhetri and Co. for the Asian Cup third round qualifiers to be held from February next year.

“I am looking at a camp in August. Then a couple of friendlies in September. It’s still not sure when the ISL VIII would start… So we are thinking of some more friendlies in October and November as well. And once the league starts, the players get busy with their clubs and in February when the national team comes calling, all of them will be ready,” Stimac said on Friday during a virtual news conference organised by the AIFF.

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The interaction, hinting that it could be his last as the national team coach, continued for little less than 70 minutes after Stimac insisted on taking more questions.

“It is now on the technical committee, the AIFF and the president to decide my future. If they are not happy with my performance, I am ready to accept that. Qualifying for the third round of the Asian Cup was like mission accomplished.

“We lost 500 days due to the pandemic. But we accomplished the aim. Is that good enough? We are not happy. We expected more points from the group. Hopefully, we have more friendlies and can fulfil the expectations of the fans and the media,” Stimac said.

He said to find the next Chhetri, the onus will be on the ISL and I-League. “The national team is not a factory or an academy. The national team gets players from the ISL and I-League.

“Indian football will not move ahead if you have a league of four or five months. They need to play 40 plus matches. A season of eight months gives us more competition. Also, ISL is not bringing pressure as there is no relegation… We need to start thinking about how to organise teamwork for players who are left out of training sessions for a longer period.

“Once this pandemic is over, the league will go on for eight to 10 months and our players will get about 40 games. Then we can expect more from our boys,” he said.

ISL, India’s No. 1 league, is played for five months and that has been a cause for worry. In most countries, leagues are played over eight months.

“Even lower ranked countries are investing more on development of the game and have stronger leagues than us. They are advancing faster than India,” he added.

From this edition, the ISL would see just four foreigners (last season it was five) in the playing XI and Stimac has an advice for the clubs.

“I would request the clubs not to sign two foreigners for the same slot…If you have one foreign striker and he is taken off then an Indian striker can get some match-time. Also, in I-League let’s do away with foreigners,” he said.

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