Analysing Igor Stimac's demands and how they could help Indian football
With a major accomplishment under his belt, Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac called for major changes in the way the sport is run in the country. We try to analyse how helpful his suggestions are.
Last week, the Indian football team accomplished one of its all-time great feats by qualifying for the Asian Cup for the second consecutive year for the first time in history. After a disappointing 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualification campaign, the Blue Tigers won all three games in the continental event's qualification against Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong to storm into next year's marquee event.
With the major accomplishment under his belt, Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac called for major changes in the way the sport is run in the country. The Croatian urged football officials to separate the football calendar from cricket and the Indian Premier League (IPL). According to the head coach, football should not suffer as a result of cricket.
"The football calendar can't depend on, for example, the IPL and broadcast-related issues. India is blessed to have a sport as popular as cricket but shouldn't be afraid to have another sport becoming as popular. Football shouldn't suffer because of cricket. Cricket shouldn't fear football," said Stimac in a press conference.
He urged the AIFF to make decisions in the best interests of the national team. Only the national team can make people fall in love with football, not ISL," he added.
Further discussing issues affecting Indian football, Stimac stated that the football season should be extended. He claimed that footballers should not take breaks longer than 6-8 weeks."After agreeing [with all the stakeholders] that the main problem is a short season and not enough games, we tried to change the structure of the competition. We know why that didn't happen."
Coach Igor Stimac, ecstatic with the results of the historic feat, demanded a series of necessary changes to the Indian football calendar to facilitate the growth of Indian football. The coach demanded that the country's football calendar be expanded. With more consistent time for the players. The coach demanded that at least 18 teams participate in the Indian Super League, increasing the number of match days to 36 from the current 20. The coach also suggested that relegation be included in the league to encourage the team's fights, in addition to promotion from second-tier tournaments.
The coach did not hesitate to request communication between himself and the league's governing bodies, as well as more game time for the players he chose for the national camp. While it appears to be a cautious attempt, Igor Stimac is far from incorrect. With less game time and the presence of more experienced foreign internationals, Indian players are unable to play in the country's only domestic league. As a result, Igor Stimac's demand for a reduction in foreign quotas is a very fruitful step toward youth development.
The mandate to play in the Durand Cup as a pre-season ritual, along with the Super Cup and state domestic competitions such as the IFA Shield and the Calcutta Football League, has led to the governing bodies opting for a more extensive domestic season.
Despite its own internal conflicts, the AIFF has scheduled more international friendlies for the month of September in an effort to give the national team more game time.
The former Croatian World Cup winner wasn't far off the mark. The majority of what he said was correct. He knew it from the moment he arrived in India. But he had never said anything with such emphasis before. The reasons for his silence over the last three years can be two-fold. The reason seems to be that the coach does not want to be on the wrong side of the body that offers him assistance. On the other hand, it can demonstrate a lot of character for the coach, who waited until he accomplished a feat before criticising the limitations in the resources available, demonstrating his ability to work with the limited resources provided to him.
However, for him to be suddenly coming out publicly and vocalizing his demand might garner a lot of criticism as well. It would be too much to accept that he was unaware of India's domestic football structure when he arrived in India. He was aware of the rivalry between the two leagues in India and even stated that the I-League has a history that the cash-rich league lacks. But he was also aware of a specific group's overwhelming control over the AIFF. As a result, he quickly learned to keep his tongue in his cheek, just like everyone else who knows which side of the bread is buttered.
He understands that the AIFF is currently in transition and will need a few months to settle down. He could have raised these concerns a few months earlier, at the very least before India began their 2022 World Cup campaign, which they lost badly. However, after nearly three years as the national coach, he is aware of Indian football's limitations. The system is indeed defective, and it is not only Stimac who is aware of it. However, the system cannot be changed overnight, as the coach demands. On a more positive note, at least the right efforts are being made in the appropriate direction to aid in addressing the issues.
Regardless of the coach's abrupt outbursts, the intention and thoughts behind them can be beneficial to Indian football. While the graph for his achievements with the team appeared to be slow, making fans impatient, it can be seen that the growth has been significantly steady, with the gaffer dealing with one issue at a time. With his contract expiring soon, the coach can expect a new one to be handed to him, as the Croatian appears to be the right man to bring about the improvement of Indian football.