Indian men’s national team coach Igor Stimac stated that the uncertainty within the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was not beneficial to the national team’s plans for the year ahead. He added pressure on the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) to see through the elections process on time.
However, the Croatian stressed that he remains committed to the AIFF and wants to continue in the job.
“We might have problems if these elections are not started soon. We need to organise ourselves. This council (CoA) cannot be operative with football matters, what is needed for the national team, and other selection matters. Time is passing by and we are not preparing for what’s ahead.
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“Also my contract runs out in September and it was an agreement with AIFF based on if we were going to fulfill our goals [Asian Cup qualification]. One council member said there was no rush because the contract is until September but he has to understand football season is different from the normal calendar. Coaches are employed in June or July and they should think about that,” he said in an impromptu press conference.
After the completion of three years of his tenure and upon securing qualification for the Asian Cup 2023, Stimac says he has identified his pool of 35 players, who he will continue to work with until the finals, but has left the door open for new additions.
Stimac stressed that only the prosperity of the national team can help ‘India fall in love with football and not the ISL’ and that he has had his hands tied throughout his time in charge.
“When I took the job, I expected a far different situation. I expected everyone to be committed and ready to help the national team rise up. But some of the parties were concentrating on their own projects which was surprising, some of them didn’t understand what that means and how long it takes for the national team to rise up.
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There is no one to blame but I was expecting more from the government on what football means in the country and how we can go forward in a quicker way. You all know that all the countries are using players of origin and India is the only country not using foreign players and it’s another handicap for the country.
When I was coming here, I was expecting that I will be given all the tools available to make India bigger and greater but it didn’t happen obviously so I would rather concentrate on my job and try to make sure we don’t mess up what we need to do. Our hands were tied throughout the period and now it’s really necessary to remain focussed on what we need to do. Less talk and much work,” he added.
Stimac said the Indian calendar cannot be influenced by external factors like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and TV broadcast.
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“Everyone thinks they are doing the best for the National team. It’s clear that the season needs to be longer and players need more matches. They [players] needed to be treated and nurtured throughout for 10-11 months and that 6-8 weeks of holiday is more than enough. We have more things to be sorted in terms of the calendar.
The football calendar cannot be dependent on for example IPL and broadcast-related issues. This needs to stop if football is to become great in India. It cannot depend on other things. It needs to be done like in other countries, it needs to go for 10 months and players need to play 50 games and national team needs proper camps for preparation” he said.