Croatian World Cupper Igor Stimac was Wednesday appointed head coach of the Indian football team for a two-year term. The national team has been without a coach since the departure of Stephen Constantine in January, following the creditable show at the AFC Asian Cup. The appointment was made by the AIFF’s executive committee. The 51-year-old Stimac, who was part of Croatia’s 1998 World Cup squad that finished third in France, comes with an experience of over 18 years in coaching, structuring, and developing football and players back home, and internationally. As a coach, Stimac’s major achievement was guiding Croatia to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. During his tenure as the national coach of Croatia, he handed debuts to the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Ante Rebic, Alen Halilovic, and Ivan Perisic, amongst others. Also Read - India's Postponed 2022 FIFA WC Qualifier Matches to be Played in March And June Next Year
He also played a pivotal role in developing the likes of Dario Srna, Daniel Subasic, Ivan Strinic, Kovacic, Perisic, and other players. The centre-back has made 53 appearances for the national team. His last assignment was with Al-Shahania Club in Qatar. As a player, he was part the 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. Besides, he was also a part of the Yugoslavia U-19 national team which won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1987. Welcoming Stimac to Indian football, AIFF president Praful Patel said, “Igor is the right candidate to coach the Blue Tigers. I welcome him on board. Indian football is going through a transition, and I am confident his vast experience will guide us to higher echelons.” Also Read - Gurpreet: Men Can Also Take a Leaf Out of Bala Devi's 'Path Breaking' Journey
General secretary Kushal Das added, “Indian football would benefit immensely under Igor Stimac. “His credentials as a coach and experience as a player are sure to add immense value to the players, and the Indian football ecosystem. The momentum gained needs to be sustained.” Technical committee head Shyam Thapa, a former India international, said, “Mr. Stimac’s recommendation was unanimous.” “All the members of the technical committee including the AIFF technical director Mr. Isac Doru were immensely impressed, and convinced about him being best suited for the job. Also Read - Sunil Chhetri Voted AFC Asian Cup 2019 'Favourite Player' in Fan Poll
He is a World Cupper, and has guided Croatia to World Cup as a coach. Who else could have been a better candidate?” he quipped. “He also impressed us with his extensive research on Indian football.” Stimac’s first assignment will be the Kings Cup in Buriram, Thailand where the Blue Tigers play Curacao in their first match on June 5.