Sunil Chhetri, India’s all-time top goalscorer, has welcomed the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) decision to appoint Croatian legend Igor Stimac as the new head coach of the Indian national team.
The mercurial forward feels that Stimac’s experience of coaching big names and big teams will stand India in good stead as the Blue Tigers look to make massive strides in their bid to be establioshed as a major footballing power in Asia.
Stimac has coached Croatian national team and led them to the 2014 World Cup qualifying play-offs and has won honours with Craotian club Hajduk Split.
Chhetri acknowledged the 51-year-old’s vast experience and felt that would benefit the upcoming stars of Indian football.
“He is a coach who brings a lot of experience to the table and I’m really looking forward to working with him. There are a lot of talented youngsters coming through the ranks for the national team and his experience would benefit us all,” he told Goal.
Chhetri felt that it was up to the Indian players to make the most of what a coach like Igor Stimac, who has coached the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, has to offer.
“His experience speaks for itself and it is upon us to take advantage of it. He’s been on the biggest stage of them all and knows what it takes to keep improving. Of course, India will be a completely different ball game as compared to the teams and players he has managed, but we are all keen to keep moving ahead,” he said.
The 34-year-old was also hopeful of the national team progressing further under the Croatian.
“The Federation (AIFF) has appointed the coach with the view that we, as country, keep progressing. That’s the Federation’s aim, our aim as players and even the aim of the new coach. We will give this an almighty push and let’s see where it takes us.”
India’s new Technical Director Doru Isac hails from Romania and the new coach from Croatia. But Chhetri does not think that an Eastern European influence will creep into Indian football. However, he has stated that all the players will be 100 per cent behind the coach.
I think there are many factors involved in us succeeding than just geographical ones. This is going to be a process and at this stage, you cannot really predict success or the lack of it. The coach is yet to come down, we as a team are yet to train and play under him – like I said, it’s a process that we will be giving our 100% towards.”