Croatian football legend Igor Stimac has been appointed the head coach of the Indian national football team on a two-year contract. Stimac has taken over charge after Briton Stephen Constantine on Wednesday. The 51-year-old Croatian World Cupper is taking over this responsibility at a very crucial time when India is looking to build a new school of players after the promising AFC Asia Cup 2019 campaign. Stimac will also be the most high profile coach in Indian football history so far. Stimac comes with an experience of over 18 years of coaching and developing football in Croatia and internationally.
As manager, Stimac led Croatia to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and it is mainly in his tenure that a bunch of talented footballers came into prominence. He handed debuts to the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Ante Rebic, Alen Halilovic, and Ivan Perisic. He also played a key role in developing players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, Danijel Subasic, Mario Mandzukic and many others.
As a player, he was part of the Croatia team that finished third in the 1998 World Cup, and a member of the national squad which qualified for the quarterfinals of the UEFA European Championship 1996 (Euro) in England. He was a part of Croatia under-20 team which clinched the 1987 FIFA Youth Championship in Chile.
His last assignment was with the Al-Shahania Club in Qatar. Stimac claimed that he has done some serious research on the ISL and the I-League. He also added that he is impressed with the attitude of Indian players and he thinks some of them have huge potential to become big stars in the future.
After Stimac’s appointment, All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das said Indian football would benefit under the guidance of Igor Stimac.
Stimac’s first assignment will be the Kings Cup in Buriram, Thailand, where India will play against Curacao in their first match on June 5.