Thursday, May 30, 2024

Take team to Asian Cup quarters or face axe: AIFF sets new contract clause for Stimac

Asian Cup
Indian Football Team Head Coach Igor Stimac. (Source: Indian Football Team Media)

KOLKATA, September 19: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has offered a fresh contract to head coach Igor Stimac with a rider — guide the men’s team to Asian Cup quarter-final or face the axe.
The former Croatian World Cupper is currently in Kolkata, where the national team is camping for its Vietnam trip and the AIFF bigwigs are expected to discuss the modalities of the contract with him once the trip is over.
The decision was taken here during the second Executive Committee (EC) meeting of the AIFF’s new dispensation headed by Kalyan Chaubey and secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran.
“The technical committee headed by IM Vijayan yesterday decided to renew his contract till the Asian Cup and it was approved by the EC today,” Prabhakaran told reporters here on Monday.
“The performance target is to be top-eight in the competition. If that target is achieved, then automatically the contract will be extended to another competition whichever is the priority for AIFF,” he added.
It is understood that AIFF doesn’t want to continue with Stimac beyond Asia Cup or else such a target wouldn’t have been given, knowing the performance graph of the national team in the continental event over the years.
The benchmark for the Croatian former World Cupper may seem to be a bit high but Prabhakaran said it was “the technical committee’s decision and is endorsed by the executive committee.”
Sunil Chhetri-led India qualified for the fifth time overall, by finishing as group D winners in the third round. This marked their first ever successive Asian Cup qualification earlier this year.
As a matter of fact, barring 1964 when it was a four-team competition, the Blue Tigers, who are ranked 104th in the world and 19th in Asia, never progressed beyond the group stage at the Asian Cup.
Stimac-coached India will embark on a Vietnam tour on Tuesday for two friendly games against Singapore and the hosts on September 24 and 27 respectively.
Asked whether Davor Suker and Zvonimir Boban’s former teammate would accept such a contract, Prabhakaran replied: “We don’t want to disturb him now, his focus should be on the team. Let him come back, then we will have a discussion with him.”
Padma nominations for Shabbir Ali, Arun Ghosh and Vijayan
The EC also confirmed that they will be nominating former players Shabbir Ali, Vijayan and Arun Ghosh for Padma Shri, while Manoranajan Bhattacharya, who is also a technical committee member, will be nominated for the Dhyan Chand.
“Jeje Lalpekhlua has been recommended for the Arjuna Award. EC approved unanimously their nominations for the National Awards,” he added.
New youth league
The AIFF executive committee also accepted the recommendation to discontinue their development side, Indian Arrows, and instead create an elite youth league using the fund.
“The men’s Indian Arrows team will be discontinued and will not hence be participating in the I-League. The investment would be diverted to creating a new elite youth league which was again approved by the EC. The idea is to invest in youth so as to have a better national team going forward,” Prabhakaran said.
“The structure of the youth league will be discussed and will be shared with the technical committee for final committees. ISL clubs and others who run academies will also be engaged in this discussion to use the youth players in the elite youth league. He however said there has not been any decision yet on the age group of the upcoming Youth League.
“We have not taken any decision on the age group. The technical committee will take a call discussing with various stakeholders, and need to have discussion with technical people to find what’s appropriate for India.
“It’ll be an elite league — the cream should play. As of now, I don’t know about women’s Indian Arrows so can’t comment,” he added.
Among other decisions, the EC has decided to reduce tournament fees for the national competitions, and waive off U-12, U-18 players’ transfer fees.
“There was a request from a few state associations to reduce the tournament fees that AIFF charges for the national competitions. It now has been reduced from Rs 25,000 to Rs 10,000.
“EC also waived off 12 years and u-12 players from paying transfer fees also for 18 and U-18 girls teams to increase participation.”
Every state association will also have an ambassador to become the face of the state.
“They will be prominent faces from the respective states. Technical committee will finalise the names. They will play an important role to elevate the level of football.”
On Vijayan’s proposal, the EC will also study the feasibility to start an institutional league to revive the institutions that have long served the country’s football. The EC also decided to appoint a technical director to expand their scouting network.
“He shall be appointed 55 years or below and an Indian. A new scouting structure would be created to select the youth team and there will be a new head of scout after the TD’s appointment,” Prabhakaran added. (PTI)