Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac on Saturday launched a veiled attack on some powerful entities associated with the game in the country, saying “some stakeholders” had focused on their projects rather than make a commitment to help the national team to make itself known.
File photo of Igor Stimac. AIFF
New Delhi: Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac on Saturday launched a veiled attack on some powerful entities associated with the game in the country, saying “some stakeholders” had focused on their projects rather than make a commitment to help the national team to make itself known.
It wasn’t the first time that Stimac had spoken about things beyond the playing field and related to football administration. On Wednesday, a day after guiding India to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup by dominating Group D in Kolkata, he had raged over the messy situation at grips with the national federation.
The AIFF is currently run by the Committee of Trustees (CoA) appointed by the Supreme Court after the waiver led by Praful Patel was shown the door for breaching the National Sporting Code.
“When I was appointed manager (in May 2019) I was pretty sure that India would have a future as a footballing nation but I knew it would be a tough road,” Stimac said during of a virtual media interaction.
“I expected everyone to be committed to helping the national team go up. Some parties focused on their projects instead. It was surprising,” said the Croatian, whose current contract is ending. in September, without naming names.
Stimac has repeatedly emphasized the availability of players for national duty in international matches and he had shown his displeasure several times earlier over the non-release of players by clubs. He had attributed the team’s impressive display in the Asian Cup qualifiers to the availability of players for a long camp before the tournament.
“Only the performance of the national team can advance Indian football, not the ISL.”
He said a lot of things for the betterment of Indian football took longer to emerge.
“The football season should be longer, more games should be played, the schedule should be sorted. At least there should be 10 months of football, 50 games for each player.”
“But a lot of things should have happened sooner. I expected more from the government. Not allowing PIO was a liability, all countries allowed it.”
“I thought I would be given all the tools (to advance the national team) but not to be.”
He said if the AIFF elections are not held soon, the national team may have problems in terms of planning for the coming year, which needs to be done sooner rather than later.
“Praful Patel was the president of AIFF when I was employed. I want to thank him for trusting me. He has his own reasons why the elections did not take place.”
“If these elections do not take place soon, there may be problems organizing what is necessary for the national team. At the moment we are not preparing for the upcoming matches.”
Stimac’s contract ends in September but he hopes to continue at the helm for another stint as he says his job was only half done.
Asked about the possibility of renewing his contract, he said: “According to the agreement, if we fulfill our objectives, which we have done (by qualifying for the Asian Cup).
“A member of the board may have said that since my contract is until September, there is time left. But he should know how the football schedule works.”
“I am committed to AIFF. I love India and I want to take these youngsters to the Asian Cup (in 2023) and show the world that India can make dough,” he said. he declares.
“Even half of my work is not done, so I don’t want to leave now. If the other party has to be reasonable, I think it (contract renewal) could happen soon, say June or July, so that things can start early for the national team.”
Stimac described talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri, who has matched legendary Hungarian Ferenc Puskas’ goalscoring feat, as his assistant who guides the youngsters in the team.
“I see Sunil more as my assistant, my right arm on the pitch. He will be 38 soon, but he challenges himself, he wants to run with Udanta, he wants to push Suresh to his best. He wants to nurture the youngsters.”
Speaking about the Indian Super League, Stimac said: “ISL should not be less than 18 clubs, there should be relegation and promotion, we have to do it quickly.
“We have seen what is happening. We are 8-10 years behind in basic development, baby league, etc. than Iran or Saudi Arabia. We need coaches to teach the Indian coaches. It won’t happen by itself.”