AIFF parts ways with head coach Igor Stimac after World Cup hopes dashed

17 June,2024 08:25 PM IST |  New Delhi  |  mid-day online correspondent

Stimac, who was appointed as the head coach in 2019, was given an extension last year by the sport`s apex body

Igor Stimac (Pic: AFP)

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The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Monday sacked Igor Stimac as the head coach of the country's senior's men's team following a disappointing campaign in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Stimac, who was appointed as the head coach in 2019, was given an extension last year by the sport's apex body.

India could not make the third round of the World Cup qualifier following a 1-2 defeat against Qatar in their final second round match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

"Noting the disappointing outcome of the Senior Men's National Team's FIFA World Cup 2026 qualification campaign, the members unanimously agreed that a new Head Coach would be best placed to take the team forward," the AIFF said in a statement.

"A notice of termination has been issued to Mr. Stimac by the AIFF Secretariat, and he stands relieved of his obligations with immediate effect."

After India's defeat to Qatar, Stimac condemned what he called an "irregular" goal. India had scored in the first half and were on course for a footballing landmark until Youssef Ayman equalised in the 73rd minute.

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The goal was hugely controversial, with some television replays appearing to show that the ball had gone out of play just beforehand. India's players, some of whom had stopped in the belief the ball had gone out, vehemently protested. But with VAR technology not in use, the goal stood. Asian champions Qatar, who had already qualified for the next round, scored the winner five minutes before the end to seal India's fate.

The 56-year-old Stimac, who was part of the Croatia team that made the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup, had taken charge of the Blue Tigers in 2019, after the departure of Stephen Constantine.

Under Stimac, India won four major trophies, including two SAFF Championships, one Intercontinental Cup and a Tri-Nations Series.

(With agency inputs)

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