India reached the 2021 South Asian Football Confederation final after beating the Maldives 3-1 on Wednesday at the National Football Stadium in Mali, Maldives.
It was the fifth time that the Blue Tigers had won a match since Igor Stimac became head coach two years ago in May 2019. India have so far played 21 matches under the Croatian coach’s tutelage, which they have won five times. He lost seven matches and drew nine times.
The Blue Tigers’ first win against Thailand came on June 8, 2019, in the King’s Cup in Buriram where Anirud Thapa’s goal made the difference.
The highlight of Stimac’s era was the Blue Tigers’ draw against Asian champions Qatar in 2019. A brave Indian side without star star Sunil Chhetri managed to push the mighty Qataris to a goalless draw in their second World Cup qualifier in Doha. . It was a lively performance by the Blue Tigers and a lot of the credit should be given to their coach.
In his stint to date, the former Croatia international has made his debut for up to 21 Indian footballers. FC Goa full-back Siriton Fernandes and China striker Rahim Ali became the 21st and 22nd players to make their international debut under Stimak on September 2 against Nepal.
How did India perform under Igor Stimak?
|June 5, 2019||Curacao 3-1 India||King’s Cup||Sunil Chhetri||Buriram|
|June 8, 2019||India 1-0 Thailand||King’s Cup||Anirudh Thapa||Buriram|
|7 July 2019||India 2-4 Tajikistan||Intercontinental Cup||Sunil Chhetri (2)||Ahmedabad|
|July 13, 2019||India 2-5 North Korea||Intercontinental Cup||Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sunil Chhetri||Ahmedabad|
|July 16, 2019||India 1-1 Syria||Intercontinental Cup||Narinder Jahlout||Ahmedabad|
|September 5, 2019||India 1-2 Oman||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||Sunil Chhetri||Guwahati|
|September 10, 2019||Qatar 0-0 India||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||–||Doha|
|October 15, 2019||India 1-1 Bangladesh||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||Adil Khan||Kolkata|
|November 14, 2019||Afghanistan 1-1 India||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||Lin Dongle||Dushanbe|
|November 19, 2019||Oman 1-0 India||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||–||Muscat|
|March 25, 2021||Oman 1-1 India||international friendly||Manveer Singh||Dubai|
|March 29, 2021||UAE 6-0 India||international friendly||–||Dubai|
|June 3, 2021||India 0-1 Qatar||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||–||Doha|
|June 7, 2021||Bangladesh 0-2 India||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||Sunil Chhetri (2)||Doha|
|June 15, 2021||India 1-1 Afghanistan||2022 World Cup Qualifiers||Dear Oves (OG)||Doha|
|September 2, 2021||Nepal 1-1 India||international friendly||Anirudh Thapa||Kathmandu|
|September 5, 2021||Nepal 1-2 India||international friendly||Farooq Chaudhry, Sunil Chhetri||Kathmandu|
|October 4, 2021||Bangladesh 1-1 India||South Asian Football Confederation 2021||Sunil Chhetri||Male|
|October 7, 2021||India 0-0 Sri Lanka||South Asian Football Confederation 2021||–||Male|
|October 10, 2021||Nepal 0-1 India||South Asian Football Confederation 2021||Sunil Chhetri||Male|
|October 13, 2021||India 3-1 Maldives||South Asian Football Confederation 2021||Manveer Singh, Sunil Chhetri (2)||Male|
Challenges faced by coach Igor Stimak
The Croatian’s biggest challenge as coach of India was the 16-month lag in which the Indian national team did not play a single match due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. After a busy 2019 year, in which the Blue Tigers played 10 games under Stimac’s tutelage, not a single international match was played in 2020.
Thus, after playing their last competitive match in November 2019, Stimac was only able to regroup the team in March 2021. India played two friendlies against Oman and the UAE in March 2021.