ANI Photo | “I am happy to put in my papers…”, threatens Indian football coach Igor Stimac

After steering India to three trophies in the past few weeks, Indian football coach Igor Stimac demanded an extended preparation period for the national team ahead of the crucial Asian Cup that is scheduled in January 2024.
“After four years of hard work, it will all boil down to the Asian Cup and a bad result will mean people will say, Nah. And I am not ready for that. So we need to act now. Either, we do this together for the next four years, or I am happy to put in my papers and walk away without a word, ” Igor Stimac said to Revsportz.
The high-profile coach expressed disappointment in not being able to implement the plans and said while speaking to Revsportz, “To help Indian football grow. And to be able to do that, we need to put a few steps in place. When I started, it was as if people did not want to put these steps in place. Despite getting me on board to help Indian football, the attempt was to pull me down to your level and your policies, rather than following my vision and getting better. If India has to rival the best Asian teams and get better, we need to follow a certain path. We need to make sacrifices. And I am working on a series of presentations for the AIFF.”
“He feels a sense of vindication, in that the hard work the team has put in as a collective has paid off, he also thinks that unless plans are put in place and done so immediately, India will not be able to make the most of the gains emerging from the SAFF win. And despite the country hailing his work as a coach, he is ready to put in his papers unless there is a collective buy-in from the AIFF, and unless a plan is agreed on for the next four years, which will fast-track Indian football on the path of growth,” he added.
Speaking to Revsportz on his future, Stimac said, “I am not in this for money. In the last few years, I have received many offers which are far more financially lucrative and could have earned me more money for myself and the family. I am in this for a cause”.
“I have promised the President, who is a very good, able and passionate man that I will send him the presentations, which will summarise my work over the last four years and outline my vision for the next four years and then speak to him. I am almost done with the presentations and will be sending things to the AIFF in the next five-six days and then seek an urgent meeting with them. If we have to travel this journey together, we need to agree to a plan for the next four years. And we have to do it now. Not in September, not in January, but now,” he said.
“Given the situation and the commitments to stakeholders, it is clear that we won’t have much time with the national team in September, October or November. So we will not be adequately ready for the Asian Cup in January. We might still play well, might resist but that’s not playing to our full potential. And I am not willing to be judged by one match, ” added Igor Stimac.
The coach also dismissed all talk around Sunil Chhetri’s retirement saying, “Sunil Chhetri is playing the best football of his life, and is at his fittest best. So do you want someone to retire when he is at his best and playing his best? Why is all this talk happening? Yes, in the last two years, Sunil could have had some issues at club level. But he is over all that, and is playing some of the best football he has ever played. Look at his fitness and passion and commitment. I am very clear. He is the best we have. And best for a reason. So it is foolish for me to not use our best. There can be no debate on this whatsoever, and I hope it is put to bed once and for all.”
It is now to be seen if the AIFF agrees with his vision and makes some radical changes or if Stimac decides to put in his papers when Indian football is on a high.

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