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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Exclusive | We need to give Igor Stimac time to settle down as Indian football team coach: Bhaichung Bhutia

Stimac won the bronze medal with Croatia as a player following a brilliant campaign at the 1998 World Cup and his career featured memorable stints in clubs like West Ham and Hajduk Split.

football Updated: May 17, 2019 12:28 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
File image of Indian football coach Igor Stimac.
File image of Indian football coach Igor Stimac. (AFP)

When it comes to achievements, Igor Stimac is easily one of the most high profile names to become the head coach of the Indian football team. The former Croatian international was handed the mantle after the departure of Stephen Constantine and he will be joining the team on May 20.

The defender won the bronze medal with Croatia as a player following a brilliant campaign at the 1998 World Cup and his career featured memorable stints at clubs like West Ham and Hajduk Split.

As a coach, he won the league with Croatian side HNK Hajduk Split in the 2004-05 and later went on Croatian Championship side NK Zagreb in 2009. In 2012, he was appointed coach of the Croatia national team and although his team was able to book their berth in 2016 World Cup, the 51-year-old resigned from his position after a 0-2 loss against just ahead of the qualification play-offs.

Also Read: Sunil Chhetri hails newly appointed Indian coach Igor Stimac

Former Indian football team skipper Bhaichung Bhutia sounded quite impressed by Stimac’s achievements but said that he needs to be given time in order to settle down in his new job.

“We have seen his CV and it is quite impressive. I think that he brings a lot of experience because he has been a coach at the highest level and I really hope he does well. Of course, his experience as a player will also help him quite a bit,” Bhutia told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview.

Stimac has made his intentions clear by announcing a 37-member preliminary squad for the Kings Cup even before arriving in the country. A major reason behind his appointment was his deep research on the Indian players and Bhutia believes that everybody needs to support him in the initial stage.

“He is just joining the setup. So it is important to give him time and everybody - the federation, the players and the people around - need to support him well in these initial stages,” he said.

The first challenge for the Indian football team under the new management will be Kings Cup which will be held in Buriram from June 5-8 this year and the tournament will also feature hosts Thailand, Vietnam and Curacao.

This will be their first match since the AFC Asian Cup way back in January and considering the competition, it will certainly not be an easy task for Sunil Chhetri & Co. However, Bhutia believes that the tournament will not be an extra challenge and Stimac should focus on understanding the players better.

“I do not think that the tournament will be a pressure for him. The main thing is for the players to understand his system and once he starts watching the ISL (Indian Super League) and I-League, he will begin to understand the players better. So, it is all about giving him the time to settle down,” he said.

First Published: May 17, 2019 12:27 IST

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