Igor Stimac: Meet the Croat who's set to be named Indian football team's coach

The AIFF technical committee has recommended Igor Stimac for the role of Indian football team's coach.

Igor Stimac, India's new football coach, brings a wealth of experience with him, having played for and managed Croatia.   -  Getty Images

The technical committee of the All India football Federation has recommended former Croatia international Igor Stimac as the next coach of the men’s national team.

The technical committee zeroed in on the former World Cup player after interviewing four shortlisted candidates, including former Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca — who was billed by the media as the early favourite.

"Igor was a dedicated player and now as a coach, he would be excellent for both young and experienced players. He chooses the best way to win," Davor Suker praised Stimac in an interview with Goal. "I hope the knowledge of Croatian football and Croatia's experience from the last World Cup can benefit Indian football," he added.

The Croatian, who was part of the national side that reached the World Cup semifinals in 1998, has an impressive body of work. He enjoyed a 17-year-long playing career which began and concluded with Hajduk Split in the top-flight of Croatian football. In between, he has also played for Derby County and West Ham United in England and Cadiz in Spain.

Stimac, a central defender, started in six of Croatia’s seven matches at the 1998 World Cup as forward Suker inspired the World Cup debutant to a third-placed finish – the Balkan nation’s best place in the quadrennial event till 2018, when Luka Modric led the team to final of the World Cup in Russia.

Stimac formed an excellent defensive partnership with Slaven Bilic and Dario Simic as Croatia just conceded five goals in the tournament.

The 51-year-old won 53 caps for the national team before calling time on his career after the 2002 World Cup, where Croatia failed to get past the group stage, despite having players like Suker and Niko Kovac – the current Bayern Munich manager – in the squad.

Stimac's most-recent managerial role was with Qatari club Al-Shahania between December 2016 and May 2017.

Stimac took over as the Croatia manager in July 2012, following the departure of former team-mate Bilic. Croatia's results under Stimac were far from satisfying and the country failed to secure direct qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Stimac resigned after Croatia lost 2-0 to Scotland in the final World Cup qualifying match.

His managerial CV also includes coaching Iranian club Sepahan between 2015 and 2016.