Igor Stimac stays: AIFF extends contract of Indian football men’s team coach till 2026

Igor Stimac, the head coach of India’s men’s national football team, has extended his contract until 2026, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced on Thursday.

The extension includes an option to automatically extend the contract period by two years in case India qualify for the next round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Mahesh Gawli, the assistant coach of the senior men’s team, was appointed as the head coach of the men’s U23 team.

Stimac, a member of the Croatia side which finished third at the FIFA World Cup 1998, took charge of the Blue Tigers in 2019 and has won four major titles with the side, including two SAFF Championships.

Most recently, he was the gaffer of the Indian football team at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, which reached the round of 16 of the tournament after 13 years.

After their exit with a 0-2 loss to Saudi Arabia, Stimac had hinted at his intention to continue his stay in India, but only on the condition that he is supported in his vision for the national team.

“I will decide in the next 48 hours sitting down with the right people. They know what I’m looking for. It’s not about money,” Stimac had told reporters in Hangzhou.

“It’s about whether are we capable of providing time for the national team to be together and work together. If we want to go higher, I need time to work with my players. I cannot do it without time provided to work with them.”

India, with Stimac in the dugout, qualified in consecutive editions of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time, last year. In October 2022, the AIFF extended his contract till the end of the tournament.

Almost a year later, that stay was officially extended, confirming his stay with the Blue Tigers for the next four years.

The Indian men’s team will next be in action at the Merdeka Cup next week while its focus will be more on the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers, next month.


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