Igor Stimac lashes out at AIFF after India’s AFC Cup Qualification
A file image of Igor Stimac.|
Igor Stimac, the head coach of the Indian football team, has lashed out at the AIFF's chaotic state of things, a day after his team qualified for AFC Asian Cup for the second time in a row. After Praful Patel-led federation was found to have breached the NSC, the CoA is now in charge of the AIFF.
While a FIFA punishment for third-party interference is unlikely, Stimac questioned the timing of the incident, which has placed a pall on India's chances of qualifying for a major event such as the AFC Asian Cup. "For such an important tournament, was this the time to do this? Was anybody thinking how that could affect the dressing room and the players?" Stimac asked, referring to AIFF's current state of affairs.
"I am not getting into who is right and who is wrong. It is not my job. I am just talking about timing. At such an important time, such a thing is happening, is anyone normal?" "Nothing would have happened if they were waiting for three more weeks after having waited so many years," he said. When questioned about his future, the 54-year-old, whose contract has been extended till September, did not mince words. "We didn't have time to discuss contracts. There isn't even a bulletin board. Nobody considered how the players would be affected by the situation "explained the Croatian.
Palestine defeated the Philippines 4-0 in a Group B encounter in Mongolia, ensuring India's qualification ahead of their last league play against Hong Kong on Tuesday. Stimac's team celebrated their qualifying with a 4-0 win over Hong Kong later in the day, finishing with three victories to win Group D for the first time in their history.
Stimac went on to say that he moved to India for a "lower wage" despite having many offers. "The players are trying to save my job. I came here for less salary than what was my market price. I had offers from others for better-paid jobs than I saw in India. The coach was never the problem in this country, you should talk about other problems," he said.
"We look into the future where we want to be. We want to be in every Asian Cup and we also want to compete strongly for the World Cup Qualifiers, which was clearly said at the beginning of my term," Stimac said.
“Be it AIFF or the government. Beware of the Indian national team. We represent India, if there are ambitions in the country to think where we can be, they must follow our motto," he said. India's journey began with a 2-0 victory against Cambodia, followed by a dramatic 2-1 triumph over Afghanistan. The cherry on top came when they defeated table leaders Hong Kong 4-0 to finish first in their group.
Stimac also outlined his requirements for staying in India, stating that he wants to make the I-League a fertile ground for Indian football. "In the Indian Super League, there is already the 3+1 rule. But we need to reduce foreigners altogether from the I-League going forward if we want to go forward," he said.
"I need players playing as strikers or forwards and center-backs. I need reasons why there is a need for foreigners in the I-League. I'd give you 100 reasons why there is no need for foreigners in the I-League."
"Some things will need to change drastically. In the future, if I am here, the league will need to stop when I say, for as many days as I think is needed for the national team to prepare to go higher," he said.
"And players who are chosen by us, they will have to play at the clubs... We are eight to 10 years late in our development program -- eight to 10 years behind the top eight Asian countries. How are we going to get there? So let's wake up," he signed off.