India football team coach Igor Stimac (Photo/ AIFF)
India football team coach Igor Stimac (Photo/ AIFF)

Stimac has taken first step in bringing about new philosophy to senior men's team: AIFF chief Praful Patel

By Vishesh Roy | Updated: Jul 28, 2021 12:21 IST

New Delhi [India], July 28 (ANI): The All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel has said head coach Igor Stimac has been able to take the first step in bringing about a new philosophy to the senior men's team.
In an interaction with ANI, Patel opened up about the impact head coach Igor Stimac has had on the senior side, the need to play international friendlies, and much more.
"Igor Stimac has taken the first step in bringing about a new philosophy to the senior men's team and that has already transpired to all other age groups as well. While football is a simple sport where you need to pass the ball around, rotate it, switch it, receive it, and pass it again -- all of that comes with immense technical abilities, especially in modern-day football where rival teams come up with intense pressing techniques to thwart the opposition," Patel said.
"In addition, there has been an influx of new talent in the team and youngsters coming in to challenge the seniors. And amidst all of that, there are a number of them who have graduated from the AIFF Academy setup and Indian Arrows into the senior team. Brandon Fernandes, Suresh Singh, Akash Mishra, Amarjit Singh, Narender Gahlot, Lalengmawia Apuia, amongst others have been a part of the AIFF YDP system.
"Our target from the group was to finish third and had we not lost our concentration in those last 10 minutes against Oman in Guwahati, things could have been different. But, that's football. We are on course for qualification to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 -- that's the next aim," he added.
Talking about whether the Indian national side needs to be given more international matches for exposure, Patel said: "That has been in place for long -- since the past few years. Very recently, the Blue Tigers went into the World Cup Qualifiers on the back of five international matches at the King's Cup and the Intercontinental Cup. And even as the entire world got stuck up due to the pandemic, the Blue Tigers travelled to Dubai in March 2021 to play international friendlies against Oman and UAE."

"What I mean to say is that we haven't missed out on any FIFA windows and that we will be utilising the FIFA windows in September, October, and November to gain valuable match experience in our quest to move forward together towards the AFC Asian Cup China 2023," he added.
Earlier, the AIFF had come up with a COVID-19 relief grant to support Category 1 and 2 active referees, and assistant referees who have been adversely affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant is one-time financial assistance for match officials who are managed by the AIFF through their participation as officials in AIFF competitions.
"The AIFF is everyone's federation. As the governing body of Indian football, we need to stand by our heroes in times of need. Hence, in an effort to take it forward together, we have come up with a policy to provide a medical support system for footballers who have played for India, and also the technical staff which includes head coach, assistant coach, goalkeeping coach, FIFA referees, and FIFA assistant referees. I need to mention that we have been helping former footballers on a case-to-case basis but we have now put in a policy for everyone's benefit," said Patel.
"We have also come up with a one-time grant for the 164 match officials who have been hard hit during the pandemic. This is in addition to the Covid grant to all State Associations. Footballing activities have been hit hard owing to the pandemic but we take huge pride as Indian Football led the way to bring back live sporting action in India in the I-league Qualifiers in October 2020. Since then, our bio bubbles have been a point of case study for many, and there has been huge appreciation from FIFA and AFC," he added.
Further talking about the impact COVID-19 has had on football in India, Patel said: "Two simultaneous leagues were successfully run for over four months and that was followed by the hosting of the AFC Champions League group stage matches. In addition, our youth teams, the women's team, and the men's national team have played international fixtures abroad, all due to diligent and meticulous planning from the federation's side."
The 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup is just six months down the line and Maymol Rocky has stepped down as the coach of the national side. Speaking about its impact, Patel said: "Maymol has stepped down due to personal reasons. The AIFF immensely values her contribution to the women's team and the manner in which she introduced a seamless process of strength and conditioning among the girls. We wish her good luck in her personal and professional endeavours. We are almost in the final stages of finalising a new national team coach for the senior women's team."
"We understand that the coach needs to come with good credentials and a proven track record and experience in Continental championships. 2022 will be a huge year for women's football in India as we also have the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup slated from October 2022. The legacy of the two tournaments will surely galvanise the Indian sociological context and develop a huge interest among the girl child, allowing her to play more," he added.
Further talking about the AFC Asian Cup, Patel said: "The AIFF is extremely serious in providing international exposure to the women's team and if you remember, the women's team played 45 friendly matches at the international level since 2018, and then in 2020, the pandemic struck. However, in midst of this, the women's team did travel to play international matches in Turkey and then in Uzbekistan -- that too in midst of the pandemic to play five matches."
"There were a lot of exposure tours lined up for the women's team (in fact, for the youth teams too) but with the pandemic striking, the circumstances have been different. The quarantine rules lie with the governments of the respective countries and not just with any football federation. The safety of the players and officials is of paramount importance and there can never be any compromises in that regard. We are hoping that camps can begin mid-August keeping in mind the guidelines of the governments," he signed off. (ANI)