It seems like the gloomy clouds surrounding football in India are sauntering away. The puzzles are getting solved and the vacant positions are filling.
Indian national team confirmed the arrival of the 51-year-old Croatian Head Coach, Igor Štimac who is a well known name in the Croatian football circuit. Here are the five noteworthy facts which the followers of Indian football must know about the new man at helm:
● Playing Career :
Igor was a renowned defender back in his days. He played as a Centre Back for the Croatian outfit. Štimac was an important part of the 1998 World Cup campaign, in which the team went on to receive the bronze medal. On the international level, Štimac was always a talented defender and was a part of the highly-talented Yugoslavia under-20 team, which went on to win the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile. In club football, he has played for three clubs in Croatia, one in Spain, and two in England. Although Štimac’s career started back in 1985, his claim to fame came from his stint with Derby County in 1995-96 season. The Croatian stopper netted a goal in his debut match. Sadly, the team didn’t win that day but he went on to have a significant career with The Rams. He represented the club for the next four years till 1999 having 84 appearances and 3 goals. Igor was a famous and a celebrated name for Derby. After that, he entered the English grounds to play for West Ham United in the next season.
● Managerial Career :
Štimac has a bittersweet managerial history until now. He had his ambitious beginnings with Hajduk Split in 2005. He upgraded himself to become the national team coach in 2012-13 after gaining an experience of 7 years, managing three Croatian teams. But things refused to fall in place as he progressed. Following his national adventure, Štimac took charge of the Croatian side NK Zadar, Iranian club Sepahan, and the Bahrain national side with his average point per game not even crossing 1.
● Tactics :
It is analysed that the coach is highly dependant on set-pieces and counter attacks to score goals. Playing as a centre-back throughout his career, Štimac has focused more on securing his goalkeeper. And his stint with Croatia was a testament to it especially in the matches they struggled. A closer look at his preferred setups are 4-3-3 defending, 5-3-2, 5-4-1, 4-4-2 double 6, 4-4-2 diamond, 4-3-1-2, 4-3-3 defending, 3-4-2-1, and similar others. His affinity to commit fewer people up front did see Croatia score more from set-pieces and opponents’ defensive errors, but the trial and error method never clicked.
4) Unleashing the beasts :
In spite of his managerial failures, he is well-known for managing the likes of Luka Modrić, Mario Mandzukić, Ivan Rakitić and some others, who are rejoiced as the superstars of this generation. Not only that, he has also handed Mateo Kovacić his debut. Kovacić currently plies his trade for Premier League giants Chelsea.
5) Stimac the Entrepreneur & Brand :
Well, Igor was not just another player for the Rams. He was a celebrated lad for them. Igor is regarded no less than being a legend for Derby County. He has a lounge named after him. It reads “Igors” which is located at Derby County. On the other side of the coin, he is also a serial entrepreneur. Stimac owned a betting company named SportTip, which went bankrupt in 2005 after 5 years of its inception. His entire family is into wine and olive oil production business.
It is highly believed that with his experience, he can be a valuable addition to the setup. But looking back at his managerial profile, he has not won trophies, nor was he a celebrated manager. The Indian team was strongly linked with Albert Roca, the former Bengaluru FC manager but Roca didn’t bag the appointment letter. One of the reason being AIFF’s failure to meet his salary expectations, which exceeded the federation’s 25000 US dollars per month budget though officially AIFF said that the former BFC manager did not seem well-prepared in his interview although he was the fan favourite among the shortlisted candidates.
Although, fans are rejoicing the inclusion of deserving players like Soosairaj, Adil Khan, Jobby Justin for the National camp, the question remains can the new man at helm change the tide and build a commendable team? The question will be answered as we progress, but the immediate impact can be discussed after India’s next challenge at the King’s Cup in Thailand next month and thereafter in the Intercontinental Cup in the homesoil.