Stimac set to continue as men's team coach, Indian Arrows scrapped in AIFF Technical Committee meeting

File photo of Igor Stimac with the Indian football team AIFF

The Technical Committee of All India Football Federation met on Sunday under the chairmanship of former player IM Vijayan and recommended the extension of men's team head coach Igor Stimac as well as the discontinuation of the Indian Arrows project.

The committee, which met in Kolkata, discussed the performance of the Indian men's team under Stimac and recommended the extension of Stimac's contract till the end of AFC Asian Cup in July next year.

They also decided to discontinue the participation of the Indian Arrows in the I-League because of the difficulty in fulfilling the AFC Licensing criteria. Their funding will now be invested in creating a new Elite Youth League in the country, the AIFF said in a release.

About women's football, the committee also recommended to appoint more women coaches across the country

This will be Stimac's third contract extension after he took charge of the national men's team in May 2019 on a two-year tenure. In 2021, he was given a contract extension of a few months till September of that year. He was then given another tenure extension of one year which was to end this month.

"In the first agenda of the meeting, the Technical Committee recommended the extension of Senior Men's Team Head Coach Igor Stimac's contract till the AFC Asian Cup 2023," the AIFF release said.

The 2023 AFC Asian Cup will be held from June 16 to July 16 but the venue is yet to be decided after original hosts China pulled out due to COVID-19 situation in that country.

Stimac's continuation was on expected lines after he guided the national team to the 2023 Asian Cup Finals with a dominant show in the qualifiers here in June. It will now be just a matter of formality for the executive committee of the AIFF to stamp its seal of approval in its meeting here on Monday.

The first assignment for Stimac, a part of Croatia's 1998 World Cup third-place finishing team, after contract extension will be the two international friendly matches in Vietnam later this month for which a two-day camp of 24 probables has started here from Sunday. India play Singapore on September 24 and Vietnam three days later, both matches to be held in Ho Chi Minh City.

The release also said, "The Technical Committee has also asked for fresh plans for the development of women's football in the country, as well as the Senior Women's National Team. ...ways to improvement of coaching in India was also discussed by the committee, which insisted to make sure that all Indian coaches are used in every age group, so that they gain more experience to take Indian Football forward together."

Earlier in the day, the Executive Committee members of the AIFF visited the National Centre of Excellence here and inspected it.

"The new management will evaluate the project and finalise a revised plan after discussing in the Executive Committee meeting on how to complete the project for the optimum usage of facility," the AIFF said.

Former India defender Manoranjan Bhattacharya, who had expressed his desire to not continue as deputy chairman of the technical committee, attended Sunday's meeting. AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey, who was East Bengal goalkeeper when Bhattacharya was coach, had earlier said that he would ask him to reconsider his decision. "He (Bhattacharya) is in the team and we will work as a team," Chaubey told PTI on Sunday.

With inputs from PTI