Probably on final leg as India coach, Igor Stimac fights for his reputation-Sports activities Information , Alenz

Probably on final leg as India coach, Igor Stimac fights for his reputation-Sports activities Information , Alenz

If Igor Stimac’s tenure as India coach is to finish in September this yr then he would wish to exit on a excessive notice.

FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2022: Possibly on last leg as India coach, Igor Stimac fights for his reputation

India to this point have gained just one match out of 12 beneath Igor Stimac. Picture: AIFF Media

Igor Stimac took the cost of the Indian males’s soccer group instantly after the Blue Tigers skilled one in all their highs in fashionable historical past.

India’s participation within the 2019 AFC Asian Cup got here eight years after they final participated within the event. Their solely look earlier than that was in 1984. Within the event, Stephen Constantine-led India made a giant bang begin by beating Thailand 4-1. Of their final group recreation, India misplaced to Bahrain 1-0 by conceding within the stoppage time. A draw would have seen them progress to the final 16.

Constantine determined to stop after the event and that led to an elaborate course of to pick the subsequent India coach. The search finally ended with former Croatia coach Igor Stimac. An completed participant and coach, Stimac was additionally a daily a part of the Croatia group that completed third on the 1998 World Cup.

Excessive-profile coach, current spectacular outcomes, the soccer ecosystem in India was brimming with confidence, optimism and expectations.

The beginning complimented the hope. India defeated Thailand as soon as once more within the King’s Cup pleasant event, there was a visual change of their enjoying model. Whereas they opted for “longball” soccer beneath Constantine to edge out outcomes, beneath Stimac, Sunil Chhetri and Co had been constructing assaults from the again.

The FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2022 marketing campaign which additionally doubles as qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup started with a slender defeat in opposition to Oman. In opposition to a superior facet, India took the lead solely to leak two heartbreaking targets within the final eight minutes. Although the outcome did not go India’s approach, the praises definitely did. Subsequent, India held Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw.

Dwindling fortunes

Newspapers termed the Qatar outcome as “soccer’s big leap in India,” little doubt it was a giant outcome. However what got here afterward has been a narrative of frustration and disappointment. Of their following matches, video games that India had been anticipated to win, Stimac’s facet might solely safe dispiriting attracts, coming again in each matches to avoid wasting the blushes. They then misplaced to Oman earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic utterly washed out the 2020 calendar yr.

Stimac typically talked up his model of soccer which entailed eye-pleasing enjoying from the again model, nevertheless, after the preliminary few video games, what we noticed on the sector was a cocktail of concepts the place the group did not look positive of what they needed to do.

The gamers lacked coordination, at instances form and spirit. When worldwide soccer did resume for India in March 2021, Stimac’s facet secured a draw in opposition to Oman in a pleasant earlier than struggling a 6-0 defeat in opposition to UAE, in a match that reminded of the horrors from the previous.

Within the March friendlies, Stimac debuted to a variety of kids. Throughout his tenure, he has performed 38 completely different gamers and one can accuse of him not figuring out his finest XI. On the finish of his two-year deal in Could, India have gained just one and misplaced six in 12 video games.

He was lately given a contract extension until September this yr forward of the final three matches of the qualifiers that start on 3 June. India will probably be enjoying Qatar (3 June), Bangladesh (7 June) and Afghanistan (15 June). They’re presently fourth in Group E and out of the World Cup race. A 3rd place end will take them to the subsequent spherical of Asian Cup qualifiers. If they’re among the many 4 finest fourth-placed groups they are going to nonetheless get a direct entry. Something lower than meaning competing in play-offs that are anticipated to be performed in September.

Contract scenario

By solely extending Stimac’s contract until September and never any additional, the All India Soccer Federation (AIFF) in some methods has tried to point that India will probably be enjoying the subsequent spherical of qualifiers, together with play-offs if required, with out Stimac. The federation’s press launch said that its technical committee will meet once more in September to debate the longer term pathway ahead. Nonetheless, individuals with inside data say Stimac is least prone to get an extension.

“The information that Stimac will get a three-month extension was out earlier than the technical committee met. It was already determined. Within the assembly, members weren’t very important of Stimac nevertheless it was amply made clear that he is not going to be there for greater than three matches until he brings 9 factors from these matches, which may be very troublesome,” mentioned a veteran journalist within the data of issues. “For the subsequent rounds of Asian Cup qualifiers, whether or not we play play-offs or not, India will likely have a brand new coach.”

Good thing about doubt

Stimac’s tenure has to this point didn’t ship on the expectations however there’s some advantage of the doubt he should get. Greater than half of his tenure interval has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. India didn’t play any worldwide recreation in 2020 and their March pleasant in opposition to Oman put an finish to a pressured break of 492 days.

He additionally wasn’t in a position to maintain camps just like the one he needed to host in mid-April or from the beginning of Could in Kolkata forward of the qualifiers. On the identical time, one might additionally argue that outcomes had already began going downhill earlier than the pandemic.

The disappointing attracts in opposition to Bangladesh and Afghanistan had been removed from what was anticipated from a group that had proven all indicators of being on the up with their efficiency on the 2019 Asian Cup. Stimac’s penchant to vary his group with each recreation has additionally not helped him.

The growth of the Asian Cup from 16 to 24 groups has made the trail of qualification rather a lot simpler for India and lots of different groups. The rising hole between the standard of groups must also work in India’s favour and the group are anticipated to lastly make it to China for the 2023 version even when they’re to play within the play-off spherical. One thing that even Stimac has indicated in his earlier press interactions, however a extra easy qualification is what was anticipated after the excessive of 2019 version.

All issues in the intervening time level in direction of a potential exit of Stimac, until he surprises his detractors with spectacular ends in the upcoming three matches, and if that’s the case the 53-year-old will probably be decided to re-establish the status that helped him clear the choice course of to turn into India coach.

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