AIFF at Stimac’s mercy over his future after handing contract till 2026

Vijayan revealed that Stimac’s contract was extended back in October against the recommendations of the technical committee.

Published : Jun 12, 2024 16:45 IST , Chennai - 2 MINS READ

Igor Stimac’s future as India’s head coach rests with the Croatian’s decision as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is left with little to manoeuvre after handing him a two-year contract extension last year. 

The team suffered a second-round exit in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers after poor results in the last three months. India lost to Afghanistan in Guwahati, drew against Kuwait in Kolkata and lost to second-string Qatar in Doha to finish third in Group A and missing out on qualification.

Although Stimac said in March that he would quit if he failed to take the team into the third round, in the post-match press conference after the defeat to Qatar, he said the decision isn’t set in stone yet. “That is something that we will discuss internally in the next few weeks to see where our future stands. There is nothing I can tell you now at this moment. It was obvious tonight that India has a good future in football,” Stimac said on Tuesday.

AIFF technical committee chairperson I.M. Vijayan is waiting to hear from Stimac on whether he chooses to reverse his decision. 

READ | FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers: AIFF seeks investigation into Qatar’s controversial goal vs India

“We have to wait and see what he says in the next meeting. He is under contract until 2026, so letting him go will make it an expensive affair. We will have to pay his salary until the end of his contract or until he finds another job. We will also have to get in a new coach and pay his salary too,” Vijayan told  Sportstar. Stimac reportedly earns $30,000 per month until the end of his deal.

After starting the qualifying campaign with a win away at Kuwait, India looked primed to make it to the next round with three home matches to come. “Results have been very bad [Afghanistan and Kuwait] at home,” said the former India striker.

Vijayan also revealed that Stimac’s contract was extended back in October against the recommendations of the technical committee. “We thought we had to move on from him, but we found out only through the media that his tenure had been extended,” he said.

Vijayan, however, sympathised with the team in the defeat to Qatar on Tuesday, where a controversial Qatar goal in the 75th minute hurt India’s chances. “The ball was out. Everyone can see that. The referee has to be banned [for the error]. When such things happen, the players lose their belief,” he said. 

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