The process cannot be halted in between – Prabhakaran on Igor Stimac extension

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Igor Stimac, head coach of India’s men’s national football team, has extended his contract until 2026, Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran, the General Secretary of All India Football Federation announced via a virtual press conference today afternoon. The extension also incorporates a potential automatic two-year extension if India qualifies for the subsequent FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

AIFF extends the contract of Igor Stimac till 2026
Igor Stimac strikes a pose as he carries out a tense training session for the Indian National Team.

Prabhakaran was accompanied with Igor Stimac and Mahesh Gawli who is now set to become the U-23 Manager of the Men’s National team. Stimac assumed the helm of the Indian national football team in 2019. During his tenure, he has steered the Blue Tigers to victory in four significant competitions, notably clinching two SAFF Championships.

Under Stimac’s leadership, India had a successful run in Kolkata’s third-round AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers last year. By winning all three games against Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and Cambodia, the squad amassed a perfect record and qualified for the forthcoming 2023 AFC Asian Cup, which would take place early in the following year.

“I appreciate the AIFF for trusting us” – Igor Stimac says as he extends till 2026

Most recently, Stimac led the Indian football team in the Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China, where they reached the round of 16—a notable achievement after a 13-year hiatus from that stage of the tournament and unforeseen circumstances before the tournament. Following their exit from the tournament with a 0-2 loss to Saudi Arabia, Stimac expressed his desire to continue his tenure in India provided he received the support from the management.

Igor Stimac

Last week, Stimac received a new two-year contract offer to continue as the head coach of the senior team, with the proposal for the extension coming from AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey.

“I feel a part of this family. I have huge trust in my staff. I appreciate the AIFF for placing their trust in us. It’s been a busy last three-four days, and we know what is at stake here, we know we need to keep progressing.

“Having stable staff around me is important, it’s important to have great people around,” Stimac added.

India won both the Intercontinental Cup and the Tri-nation tournaments held in Imphal and Bhubaneswar, respectively. Additionally, they won the SAFF Championship earlier this year in Bengaluru.

Former India goalkeeper Mahesh Gawli, who serves as the assistant coach for the senior men’s team, has been appointed as the head coach of the men’s U-23 team.

“We have agreed to continue as a team with Igor Stimac” – Shaji Prabhakaran said during the virtual press conference

“The federation, and the members have decided to extended the contract of our national team, Igor Stimac, until the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers. We have agreed to continue as one team.

AIFF extends the contract of Igor Stimac till 2026
Igor Stimac and Mahesh Gawli with Shaji Prabhakaran, secretary general of the AIFF, after signing a contract extension that will allow him to continue till 2026

“We are seeking to ensure stability in the national team. What we have experienced in the last few months, winning back-to-back tournaments, the performance on the pitch, even in the Kings Cup, the match against Iraq was great. We can only progress, we can only improve from here. The process cannot be halted in between,” Prabhakaran said.

Furthermore, according to the terms of the contract, if India qualifies for the third round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the Croatian coach will automatically receive an additional two-year extension.

The Indian men’s squad will compete in the Merdeka Cup the next week, although they will be more interested and focused on the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers that will take place the following month.


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Ishayu Gupta
Ishayu Gupta
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