It has been a challenging journey for Igor Stimac as the coach of the Indian men’s football team…
Igor Stimac’s India resume their 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifying journey as they take on Qatar in their fifth match of the group stage in Doha on June 3.
The national team is scheduled to play their remaining three qualifying matches in the month of June. While India does not stand a chance of qualifying for the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, they still can qualify directly for the third round of the Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers if they finish third in the group.
Stimac took charge of the Indian team back in May 2019 on a two-year deal that was supposed to expire last month. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has now extended his stay until September 2021.
The highlight of the Stimac era was the Blue Tigers’ draw against reigning Asian champions Qatar in 2019. A gritty Indian side without their star player Sunil Chhetri had managed to hold the mighty Qataris to a goalless draw in their second World Cup qualifying game in Doha. It was a spirited performance by the Blue Tigers and a lot of credit must go to their coach.
In his stint so far, the former Croatian international handed debuts to as many as 19 Indian footballers. Out of those 19 players, 11 made their debuts against Oman and UAE in friendly matches in March 2021.
India’s results under Igor Stimac
|June 5, 2019||Curacao 3-1 India||King’s Cup||Sunil Chhetri|
|June 8, 2019||India 1-0 Thailand||King’s Cup||Anirudh Thapa||Buriram|
|July 7, 2019||India 2-4 Tajikistan||Intercontinental Cup||Sunil Chhetri (2)||Ahmedabad|
|July 13, 2019||India 2-5 DPR Korea||Intercontinental Cup||Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sunil Chhetri||Ahmedabad|
|July 16, 2019||India 1-1 Syria||Intercontinental Cup||Narender Gahlot||Ahmedabad|
|September 5, 2019||India 1-2 Oman||2022 World Cup||Sunil Chhetri||Guwahati|
|September 10, 2019||Qatar 0-0 India||2022 World Cup||–||Doha|
|October 15, 2019||India 1-1 Bangladesh||2022 World Cup||Adil Khan||Kolkata|
|November 14, 2019||Afghanistan 1-1 India||2022 World Cup||Len Doungel||Dushanbe|
|November 19, 2019||Oman 1-0 India||2022 World Cup||–||Muscat|
|March 25, 2021||Oman 1-1 India||International friendly||Manvir Singh||Dubai|
|March 29, 2021||UAE 6-0 India||International friendly||–||Dubai|
Challenges faced by coach Igor Stimac
The biggest challenge that the Croatian faced as India’s coach was the 16 months gap where the Indian national team did not play a single game due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. After a busy 2019, where the Blue Tigers played 10 matches under Stimac’s tutelage, not a single international match was played in 2020.
Thus after playing their last competitive game in November 2019, it was only in March 2021, that Stimac got to reassemble the squad. India played two friendly matches against Oman and UAE in March 2021.
Igor Stimac’s men, who are currently in Doha, are set to play their remaining World Cup 2022 qualifying games this month – against hosts Qatar on June 3, followed by Bangladesh and Afghanistan on June 7 and 15 respectively.