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‘Sack Stimac’

Updated on: 28 March,2024 07:30 AM IST  |  Guwahati

Former India players hold head coach responsible for shocking 1-2 defeat to World No. 158 Afghanistan in World Cup Qualifier

‘Sack Stimac’

Igor Stimac

Former India footballers are upset with head coach Igor Stimac following the national team’s shocking defeat to Afghanistan in the World Cup Qualifier on Tuesday.

Sunil Chhetri struck in his landmark 150th international before 117th-ranked India went down 1-2 to World No. 158 Afghanistan in Guwahati on Tuesday.

“These are the same players who were praised for their historic draw against Qatar [in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers]. Last year, they won three tournaments, including the SAFF Championships. So what happened suddenly?” asked former India defender Gourmangi Singh.

Also Read: PCB looking to bring Babar Azam back as Pakistan captain

AIFF under the scanner

The All India Football Federation  (AIFF) under Kalyan Chaubey made headlines for the wrong reasons following the sacking of its secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran for “breach of trust” in November last year. 

India thereafter struggled to form a team for the Hangzhou Asian Games and reached just hours before the event. Then, at the Asian Cup early this year, India failed to score a single goal in three matches. “AIFF’s recent incidents may have had an impact on the field too. It’s like if your parents are quarrelling, the effect will be seen on their kids,” said FC Goa assistant coach Gourmangi.

‘Flawed selection policy’

Former attacking midfielder Dipendu Biswas, currently the football secretary of Mohammedan Sporting, criticised Stimac for his over-reliance on Chhetri. “It’s depressing that players who have performed well in Durand Cup, Kolkata League or I-League don’t attract any attention. We keep saying why we don’t have another Chhetri, but if we don’t give chances to performing players, how will new talent emerge?” questioned Biswas citing the example of Manipuri forward David Lalhlansanga, who has scored 30-plus goals for Mohammedan Sporting this season: “Nobody knows David, thanks to Stimac’s flawed selection policies. The likes of PK Banerjee, Nayeemuddin too were sacked after poor results then why not Stimac?”

Former India defender Subrata Bhattacharya said: “Foreign coaches never brought laurels to the Indian team. It’s coaches like Amal Dutta and PK Banerjee who took India to greater heights.”

We should’ve won first leg too: Afghan coach Westwood

Chuffed after his rag-tag team shocked India in their own backyard in a World Cup qualifying match here, Afghanistan football coach Ashley Westwood asserted that the visiting side was “always the dominant” one and should have won even the first leg game which ended in a draw. 

“We remained confident even when we were trailing. To be honest, we also could have won the earlier match. We were always the dominant side in the match,” Westwood said referring to the first leg clash in Saudi Arabia that ended in a goalless draw. 

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