Indian soccer coach Igor Stimac meets CoA for the first time, both mums on contract extension

The Croatian World Cup bronze medalist had earlier expressed his wish for the CoA to make a quick decision on his contract.

File image of Igor Stimac. Image Credit: AIFF Media

The fate of his contract extension is still unknown, but Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac appears to be making plans for the national team assignments ahead. Stimac’s current contract ends in September.

He met the Committee of Trustees (CoA) on Friday for virtually the first time after the panel took over the affairs of the Football Federation of India (AIFF), following the ousting of the waiver led by Praful Patel .

Three senior players – Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jhingan – who take turns wearing the captain’s armband, also met the CoA members.

However, the CoA and Stimac refrained from saying whether the issue of his contract was discussed at the meeting. The Croatian World Cup bronze medalist had earlier expressed his wish for the CoA to make a quick decision on his contract.

“It was a good meeting and I’m sure we will continue to work together,” Stimac told PTI. “For me, more important things than the contract are meeting the needs of the national team and making sure we have enough time and games for preparation.”

Last month, the Indian team qualified for the 2023 Asian Cup after winning all three group matches in Kolkata, a convincing result that propelled the country to the continental showpiece for the second consecutive time.

In a series of post-match tweets, Stimac reiterated his plans for international friendlies for the national team later this year and longer camps next year ahead of the Asian Cup. He had attributed his team’s good performance in Kolkata to the longer camp of its players.

”I’m grateful to them (CoA) for their support to understand that the NT (national team) has to be the focus now. Need a proper camp that lasts at least 2 weeks in September in Kerala. 2 international friendlies and 1 training match with KBFC (Kerala Blasters).

“Similar plans in March 2023 but a bit longer camp. Discussed many other items including development plans. Wishing the COA good luck in fulfilling FIFA’s mission and deadlines,’ he tweeted.

On the other hand, we learn that the CoA does not want to make long-term decisions. The panel wants to complete its main task of holding the AIFF elections as soon as possible and leave major decisions to the newly elected officers.

It is also understood that the CoA, comprising former Supreme Court justice Justice Anil Dave, former Chief Election Commissioner SY Qureshi and former India football captain Bhaskar Ganguly, were impressed by the way Stimac presented his future plans for the national team. The CoA, however, simply said that “the online meeting has been convened to discuss the future path of the Blue Tigers and the development of Indian football as a whole.”

”The CoA thanked the coach and the players for their comments and suggestions for the development of football in the country which would be taken very seriously. The CoA also conveyed its best wishes to the coach and players for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup,’ a statement read.

”The priority for the CoA is currently to suggest amendments to the AIFF Constitution and to hold the next elections in accordance with the new constitution as framed under the supervision of the Honorable Supreme Court,” said he added.

The FIFA-AFC team, which had recently visited the country to take stock of the situation, had asked Indian football players to complete the elections by September 15, failing which the body World could ban the country.

It remains to be seen how the CoA will approach the issue of Stimac’s new contract, which the Ministry of Sport will also get involved in at some point. Stimac also apparently understood the CoA’s position not to make long-term decisions and might not have pressed the issue of his contract.

A decision by newly elected AIFF bureau members after September 15 may be too late for Stimac who took charge of the Indian team in May 2019 before being granted a one-year extension in 2021.

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