Enewstime News Images

Indian Football Coach Under Fire: Stimac Faces Criticism Over Team's Poor Performance

With clamour growing for the removal of Indian men’s football team coach Igor Stimac following the Blue Tigers' shocking defeat against Afghanistan in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Guwahati earlier this week, a former top coach has raised the pitch for the Croatian World Cupper’s sacking.

Stimac is under fire after a string of poor performances in the Asian Games and the AFC Asian Cup, followed by the goalless draw against 158th ranked Afghanistan at Abha, Saudi Arabia, and the 1-2 drubbing in Guwahati in the return leg on March 26.

Sanjoy Sen (63), the former technical director of ISL club ATK in 2018-19 who later became the team's assistant coach, has come out all guns blazing against Stimac, saying, “Indian football has not moved an inch forward with the help of these so-called foreign coaches”.

Speaking exclusively with IANS, Sen, who guided Mohun Bagan to the 2014-15 I-League title after 13 years, held the Croatian coach responsible for the debacle of the national team in the recent matches.

“Had there been an Indian coach in place of Stimac, he would have lost his job much earlier. This is all because of our appeasement of foreign coaches,” Sen said.

Wondering what India gained from a foreign coach, Sen said, “I don’t know if we have. Has the level of football improved? I don’t know. In my modest understanding, I feel Indian football has not moved a single step forward with the help of these so-called foreign coaches, be it Stephen Constantine, or Igor Stimac.

“I also think that after Bob Haughton, no capable foreign coach has come to India. If we see international football, most teams have their own national coach. South Korea lost to Jordan in the semifinal of the Asian Cup with a coach of the stature of German legend Jurgen Klinsmann. Those who are operating our football and travelling all over the world are also witnessing this.”

While Sen is not sure if the team would have played better under an Indian coach, he is certain that they would not have fared worse.

“I can say this much that we wouldn’t have done worse by spending much less than what we are spending on foreign coaches now,” Sen said.

He also held the All India Football Federation (AIFF) responsible for the mess as they are the one recruiting foreign coaches.

“The Federation has to take the responsibility. It must be seen how far we have progressed by appointing foreign coaches, who come to India and show us dreams that we will play the World Cup in 2026, 2030, and so on and so forth... And we are witnessing this for the last 20-25 years,” said Sen, who won the 2013 Durand Cup and 2014 IFA Shield titles with Mohammedan Sporting.

Sen, however, doesn’t mind the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs recruiting foreign players in key positions.

“The franchise clubs will certainly try to achieve the best possible results… They will put the best possible players in the important positions, which is quite natural.

“The good thing is we have reduced the number of foreigners in the playing XI to four for each team. As a result, many Indian players are getting more game time in ISL now,” Sen told IANS.

The 63-year-old also rued the present selection system in the country, doubting if there is any scouting process in place.

“Is there any clear instruction from the AIFF that the coaches will have to select players after watching matches and tournaments all over India? Is there any scouting process in place now?

“The head coach of the national team must watch matches all around and then select the players. This attitude of not picking players if they don’t play in the ISL is unthinkable," Sen rued.

*Except for the heading, this story has not been edited by The enewstime.in and has been published from IANS feed.

You can share this post!