Exclusive: Who gave the advice to Stimac about coming to India?

Legendary Davor Suker with Igor Stimac. Image Source: twitter

Sabyasachi Bagchi: Igor Stimac might have known that he would become the head coach of Indian football team. And that’s the reason why the former Croatian World Cupper came to Delhi on May 8 and gave his ‘power point presentation’ in front of AIFF’s Technical Committee on May 9. On that very day legendary Shyam Thapa led committee gave green signal to federation regarding his appointment and the AIFF officially made him the coach of Indian Football team for two years on Wednesday morning.

His primary target would be winning the Kings Cup which will be held in Thailand. That’s why the national camp will begin from May 20 at Delhi. After solving his visa problems legendary Davor Suker’s friend is eager to join the camp on day 1. In between his busy schedule he gave answer to a few questions of www.xtratime.in from Croatia.

XT: Why are you taking the job of Indian football team’s head coach post?

Igor: I have done coaching at Croatia’s national team to a lot of renowned clubs as well. I don’t have any big assignments this time and I came to know from my close friend and former teammate Davor Suker (President of Croatia Football Federation) that Indian Football team needs a new coach and I should try and after that I sent my portfolio to the AIFF after that and they liked it. I wanted to give my interview after coming to India and I am thankful to the AIFF officials that they had given me the opportunity. After talking to Suker on this matter I started to gather more information about Indian football from social media and other platforms.

XT: Do you have any basic knowledge about Indian football?

Igor: No I don’t know that much but it’s the sleeping giant of World football. The way this team has done remarkably well under Stephen Constantine in last few years, I am hopeful that I can take this team more forward from here. It’s my passion to take more challenges and that’s why I am here. Earlier this year when AFC Asian Cup was going on I watched India’s matches. Beside that I also watched I-League and ISL matches as well through internet. I know everything about the current Indian national team players, their strength, weakness and everything is under my scanner. I showed everything to the technical Committee on May 9 during the interview and they liked that a lot.

XT: You will start your journey as the India head coach from Kings Cup which is set to begin from Jun 5. Do you think you don’t have much time?

Igor: Its right that I don’t have much time as it’s the end of the season in Indian football. As far as I know the players are relaxing a bit but I know that they are professionals and in modern day football the players train hard as well whether the season is in swing or not. I think I will get a fully fit squad. It’s right that the coaching procedure of Constantine and mine are totally different but I will try my best to get accustomed with the boys as quickly as possible and I have a plus point that I can speak English really well and I won’t face any problem to get to know about the players.

XT: In U17, U19 and U21 level the Indian fooball team is consistently doing well. But the senior team isn’t performing that good. Your views on it?

 Igor: I think the media thinks that way but not me. If the senior team gets chances for more exposure tour they will definitely do better. After the Kings Cup we will play Intercontinental Cup and FIFA Qualifiers in September. If we play well in these matches we might get a chance to play in 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as well. We just need to think positive and as the AIFF is giving everything to the team as a coach me and my team should deliver good result on field as well.

XT: Tell us about your experience of 1998 World Cup where Croatia finished third?

Igor: It was our dream come true moment. After the event wherever we went we got a lot of respect. It was like a dream for all of us which is going on till now. And Luka Modric and other Croatian footballers have proven it that the result of 1998 wasn’t a fluke with their game in 2018 World Cup where we finished as runners up. Due to our good result in 1998 World Cup me, Suker and a few other Croatian players got chances in Premier League and La Liga clubs.

XT: It was in news that the Croatian Federation didn’t back the players ahead of the World Cup. Is it true?

Igor: I don’t know that from where these types of news came from. It’s totally a lie, the federation was fully cooperating with the players and if the federation wasn’t with them they couldn’t perform well at that level.

XT: How Davor Suker changed the football in Croatia and how’s your relation with him?

Igor: We were not only team mates but we are two brothers as well. Davar Suker has a lot of influence in my life. We are together since childhood, we played together in the national team and later we played together in club level as well. Not only that when Suker became the President of Croatian Football Federation back in 2010 for the first time I took part in that election as well. Though I didn’t win the election but at first my aim was to become an administrator of the association.

XT: Sunil Chhetri & other Indian footballers have praised you a lot and they are eagerly waiting to play under you. What is your feeling after hearing this?

Igor: It’s great that they are praising me. I feel privileged after knowing it and it will help me to work better with them. But my only strategy is to play team game as I don’t believe in individual brilliance. And I think I will get the same mentality from my footballers.

By Sabyasachi Bagchi


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