AIFF's ultimatum to coach Igor Stimac; Take team to Asian Cup quarterfinals or face the axe
Igor Stimac has been given a new contract by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), but it comes with a condition: get the men's team to the Asian Cup quarterfinals or lose your job. The AIFF top brass is expected to speak with Stimac while he is presently in Kolkata, where the team is staying.
The choice was made during the second meeting of the AIFF's new Executive Committee (EC), which was led by Kalyan Chaubey and secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran. "The technical committee headed by IM Vijayan yesterday decided to renew his contract till the Asian Cup and it was approved by the EC today," Prabhakaran told reporters here on Monday.
"The performance target is to be top-eight in the competition. If that target is achieved, then automatically the contract will be extended to another competition whichever is the priority for AIFF," he added. Given the national team's historical success in the continental competition, it is clear that AIFF does not intend to work with Stimac past the Asia Cup. Otherwise, an objective like this wouldn't have been set.
Although the bar set for the previous World Champion of Croatia may appear a little high, Prabhakaran said that it was "the technical committee's decision and is endorsed by the executive committee." India, captained by Sunil Chhetri, qualified for the tournament for the sixth time overall by winning group D in the third round. They qualified for the Asian Cup earlier this year for the first time ever.
In reality, the Blue Tigers, who are now rated 104th in the world and 19th in Asia, have never advanced past the group stage at the Asian Cup, with the exception of 1964 when it was a four-team event.
India, coached by Stimac, will travel to Vietnam on Tuesday for two friendlies against Singapore and the host nation, which will take place on September 24 and 27, respectively. When asked if the former teammate of Davor Suker and Zvonimir Boban would accept such a contract, Prabhakaran responded: "We don't want to disturb him now, his focus should be on the team. Let him come back, then we will have a discussion with him."