Igor Stimac to Continue as Indian Men’s Football Team Head Coach Till July 2023
This will be the Croatian's third contract extension after he took charge of the national men's team in May 2019.
Croatian Igor Stimac is set to continue as Indian football team head coach with the technical committee of All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Sunday recommending the extension of his contract till the end of AFC Asian Cup in July next year.
The technical committee, which met in Kolkata under the chairmanship of legendary striker IM Vijayan, discussed the performance of the Indian men's team under Stimac and recommended to the AIFF executive committee his continuation at the helm of affairs.
This will be Stimac's third contract extension after he took charge of the national men's team in May 2019 on a two-year tenure. In 2021, he was given a contract extension of a few months till September of that year. He was then given another tenure extension of one year which was to end this month.
"In the first agenda of the meeting, the Technical Committee recommended the extension of Senior Men's Team Head Coach Igor Stimac's contract till the AFC Asian Cup 2023," the AIFF said in a release.
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup will be held from 16 June to 16 July but the venue is yet to be decided after original hosts China pulled out due to Covid-19 situation in that country.
Stimac's continuation was on expected lines after he guided the national team to the 2023 Asian Cup Finals with a dominant show in the qualifiers here in June. It will now be just a matter of formality for the executive committee of the AIFF to stamp its seal of approval in its meeting on Monday.
The first assignment for Stimac, a part of Croatia's 1998 World Cup third-place finishing team, after contract extension will be the two international friendly matches in Vietnam later this month for which a two-day camp of 24 probables has started from Sunday.
India play Singapore on 24 September and Vietnam three days later, both matches to be held in Ho Chi Minh City.
Former India defender Manoranjan Bhattacharya, who had expressed his desire to not continue as deputy chairman of the technical committee, attended Sunday's meeting.
AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey, who was East Bengal goalkeeper when Bhattacharya was coach, had earlier said that he would talk to the former defensive bulwark of the national team to reconsider his decision.
"He (Bhattacharya) is in the team, and we will work as a team," Chaubey told PTI on Sunday.
Bhattacharya, considered one of the greatest defenders India has ever produced, is much senior to Vijayan, 53. He played in an era earlier to Vijayan and retired in 1989.
The technical committee also decided to discontinue the participation of the Indian Arrows in the I-League because of the difficulty in fulfilling the AFC Licensing criteria. The fund being spent on Indian Arrows will now be invested in creating a new elite youth league in the country.
"The committee also recommended to appoint more women coaches across the country for the women's national teams. The Technical Committee has also asked for fresh plans for the development of women's football in the country, as well as the Senior Women's National Team," the AIFF said.
"...ways to improvement of coaching in India was also discussed by the committee, which insisted to make sure that all Indian coaches are used in every age group, so that they gain more experience to take Indian Football forward together."
Earlier in the day, the executive committee members of the AIFF visited the National Centre of Excellence in Kolkata and inspected it.
"The new management will evaluate the project and finalise a revised plan after discussing in the Executive Committee meeting on how to complete the project for the optimum usage of facility," the AIFF said.
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