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India’s football coach Igor Stimac says ‘don’t ask about results in Asian Cup’ | Football News

The head coach of the Indian men’s football team, Igor Stimachas expressed his view that the upcoming Asian Cup in Doha shouldn’t be deemed as a significant tournament for the national team. Stimac cited the absence of a proper national camp as a crucial factor, a sentiment that might stir some discontent within the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Stimac had advocated for a minimum of four weeks of preparation in a national camp leading up to the premier continental competition starting on January 12.However, the scheduling conflict with the first phase of the Indian Super League (ISL), extending until December 29, poses a challenge as clubs are unlikely to release their players for an extended training camp.
With a formidable match against Australia scheduled for January 13, Stimac faces the hurdle of having less than 10 days to train with the entire national team. In India’s group, Uzbekistan and Syria are the other two formidable opponents.
“We did not get what we wanted. I was very clear, you give me time and I might provide results for you. Without the time, do not ask about the results or anything like that. Just forget it,” Stimac said bluntly.
“I will go there (Doha) with pride to represent India with my boys. We are going to do everything but there is no time for us to work, 12-13 days is nothing to prepare,” he said after India lost 0-3 to Qatar in a World Cup second round qualifiers match here.
The round of 16 will feature the top two teams from each of the six groups, along with the four best third-place teams.
Stimac noted that many countries participating in the Asian Cup will arrive well prepared, having undergone extensive and prolonged training camps.
“We are going to face Uzbekistan who will be preparing for six weeks. I don’t consider Australia as a team which we can (beat), they are better than Qatar. They are out of our league. But we are going to try everything and do everything.”
Due to the limited time available for Asian Cup preparations, Stimac emphasized that the continental showpiece has lost its significance for him and the national team.
“For us the most important thing is the World Cup qualifier. Knowing that we are not going to get enough time for the Asian Cup, I don’t consider the Asian Cup as such an important tournament for us,” said Stimac.
“I don’t want to get my players injured there. That is all I am going to take care of. Because there are three games against such big opponents like Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria. We might do something well and we are definitely going to fight and do everything on the pitch. But I am not worried about that.
“I need to make sure that we get enough points in our group in the World Cup qualifiers to make sure that we get five-six home games in the third round and that will be huge for Indian football for the future. So let us stop talking about the Asian Cup.”
Stimac’s remarks might not be well-received by the AIFF leadership, with whom he has had previous disagreements.
Earlier in the year, the Croatian coach received a show-cause notice for his public statements. Despite this, his contract, originally set to conclude after the Asian Cup, was extended for an additional two years, now lasting until June 2026.
Stimac also discussed the necessity for enhancements in the organization and logistics within the national team setup.
“We still need to work a lot, we still need many things to do inside our house, inside our family about everything that is connected to football. Qatar spends more in one trip coming here than what we do in the whole year, on all selections, as clear as that.
“In terms of organization, improvements in travel, logistics, food, sleep and rest are essential, and enhancing these aspects will benefit us in the future. This is what I am seeking and advocating for.”
Despite the 0-3 defeat against Qatar, Stimac expressed satisfaction with the team’s performance. Prior to the match, he had asserted that Qatar were “out of the league” for India.
“Overall, I am happy because the result (against Qatar) was not our priority. My priority as a coach was to get answers to some questions which were haunting me for some time,” he said.
“We are not having any more games prior to the Australia match in the Asian Cup. I have my answers and this was a huge win out of this game. I have a clear picture, clarity of what needs to be done and who are the players who can go there.”

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