Igor Stimac, appointed as the head coach of India on Wednesday, believes that the country is a football giant that needs awakening and is impressed with what he has seen so far of Indian football.
The former Croatia national team manager flew down for his interview with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) technical committee last Thursday and was chosen as the man to take over from Stephen Constantine.
Stimac is excited by the challenge on hand in his new job. “I love great challenges and as far as I can see, football in your wonderful country is a sleeping giant,” the Croatian told Goal in an exclusive chat.
One aspect that has the Croatian excited is the rising focus on India’s youth teams which have been turning heads of late with their displays and results. Having been a part of the Yugoslavia U20 team that clinched the 1987 FIFA Youth Championship in Chile, Stimac is highly encouraged by AIFF’s added emphasis on youth.
“AIFF has done so much up until now in organising good work for younger teams and players which gives me a very positive mind on what we can achieve together in the near future,” he said.
What impressed the AIFF technical committee the most was Stimac’s impressive presentation with the Croatian’s knowledge of Indian football a big swaying point.
The 51-year-old has left no stone unturned to immerse himself into Indian football ahead of starting what is certainly going to be a demanding job.
“I have seen most of India’s AFC (Asian Football Confederation) games on Arena Sports TV channel and after my candidacy, I have done serious research on the ISL (Indian Super League) and I-League,” Stimac explained.
“I am impressed with your (Indian) players' attitude and with some young players who could become big stars in the future,” he added.
With Stimac bringing positive energy and enthusiasm, it will be interesting to see how the Croat goes about his business in the coming months.