'We Will Join Together To Create History', Stimac To Stay On As Men's Head Coach To Focus On WC Qualifiers In June


(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Senior Indian men's national football team head coach Igor Stimac will continue with his role to focus on the 2026 FIFA World Cup second-round qualifiers against Kuwait and Qatar.

India suffered a serious jolt in their quest for a place in the third round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers when the side went down to Afghanistan 1-2 last month.

The committee constituted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president, Kalyan Chaubey, to hold discussions with Stimac had a virtual meeting with the head coach on April 2.

Present in the meeting were Menla Ethenpa, Member, Executive Committee and Chairperson, Finance Committee, Anilkumar Prabhakaran, Member, Executive Committee and Chairperson, Competitions Committee, M Satyanarayan, Acting Secretary General, AIFF.

During the meeting, Stimac was asked to clarify his recent statement about resigning if India failed to qualify for Round 3 of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

While commenting on his recent comment, Stimac said his remarks were made in response to a question in the said press conference, according to the information published on AIFF website.

"A year ago, I said that we would try and qualify for Round 3 and currently we are second in the group and two teams qualify. We will discuss this issue further after the match against Kuwait on June 6, 2024," the coach said in a meeting.

"The game against Kuwait on June 6 will be one of the biggest days in Indian football, as a win will immensely brighten our chances to qualify for Round 3 for the first time. The staff and the players are all aware of this historic moment that awaits us, and we will do everything in our capacity to win,” Stimac told the meeting.

"Fruitful discussions were had with the AIFF committee members. I appreciate everyone's concern and hope we will join together to create history in June," said the head coach.

Anilkumar and Ethenpa told the coach to just focus on the games ahead and plan his preparation accordingly.

Three other members of the committee, NA Haris, Vice President, AIFF, IM Vijayan and Climax Lawrence, could not attend the meeting. Haris could not attend because of the demise of his mother. Later, all three were apprised of the outcome of the meeting.

Vijayan, who is a member of the Executive Committee and the chairman of the Technical Committee, said, "I am happy that we had a good discussion with the head coach. In the World Cup qualifiers, we have two matches in hand with a chance to make Round 3 for the first time in history. It is time we focussed on the next two matches and stayed solidly behind the National Team so that they could do their best."

The acting secretary general Satyanarayan promised all necessary support to the coach, his support staff and the team to prepare for the final two games in Round 2 in the best possible way.

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