The Indian football team led by talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri on Friday, 17 May, welcomed new coach Igor Stimac to the new set-up and said they are determined to give their 100 percent on the field under the former Croatian World Cupper.
The 51-year-old Stimac, who was part of Croatia's 1998 World Cup squad that finished third in France, was on 15 May officially appointed as head coach of the Indian team. He comes with an experience of over 18 years in coaching, structuring and developing football with players back home and internationally.
As a coach, Stimac’s major achievement was guiding Croatia to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Finals in Brazil.
"I'd like to extend a warm welcome to the new boss, @stimac_ligor on his appointment as coach of the National team. He brings with him tremendous experience of having coached on some of the biggest stages in football. We will do well to benefit from it," Chhetri had earlier tweeted soon after Stimac's appointment.
“This will be a process, one towards which we will be giving nothing less than 100 percent. I’ve already spoken with the boys from the national team, and we have begun working on our fitness as we need to switch modes soon.”Sunil Chhetri
"When there is a change in guard at the helm, what doesn't change is our desire to keep improving. What I am also assuming won't change is the way all you fans have backed us. Let's all turn to this new chapter," he added.
India defender Sandesh Jhingan said Stimac's experience will be of great help to Indian football.
"At the moment, Croatia are ranked 5 in the FIFA ladder, besides being the FIFA World Cup finalists, and him being one of the pioneers of that process shows his positive vision," he said.
“Personally, it’s a big bonus for me. He was a central defender during his playing days, and had such a great World Cup in 1998. So it’s an opportunity for me to learn a lot.”Sandesh Jhinghan
India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also said he is eagerly waiting for the first national camp under Stimac here.
“I am very excited to be honest. We have a busy year coming ahead which is really good for us to keep developing as a team. We need games like the King’s Cup, and the Hero Intercontinental Cup to challenge ourselves to grow. I am really looking forward, and very happy.”Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to AIFF
"If we keep doing our jobs like we have in the recent past, I am sure we will grow even more." Right-back Pritam Kotal also couldn't hide his excitement.
"I am very excited to have Igor Stimac as our new coach. His experience will be a great addition to the team and we will look to go one better under his leadership," Kotal said.