AIFF sacks head coach Igor Stimac after five-year run

India's failure to qualify for next round of 2026 World Cup qualifiers seen as last straw

Stimac celebrating India's victory at the SAFF Championship 2023 (photo: @stimac_igor/X)
Stimac celebrating India's victory at the SAFF Championship 2023 (photo: @stimac_igor/X)

NH Sports Bureau

After five years, the Igor Stimac era ended in Indian football on Monday evening when the All India Football Federation (AIFF) decided to terminate his services with immediate effect as per a decision taken after a virtual meeting of senior AIFF officials on Sunday. 

The decision was on the cards once the Blue Tigers failed to qualify for the third round of the FIFA 2026 World Cup qualifiers, with their hopes evaporating after a 2-1 defeat in their final group game against Qatar in Doha on 11 June.

Sources in the AIFF said though the country's apex football body is not obliged to pay a severance fee to Stimac as per the new extension contract with him, they will be offering him three months’ salary. 

The meeting on Sunday unanimously resolved that in view of the ‘disappointing’ outcome of the senior men’s team in the qualifiers, the former Croatian World Cupper should be relieved of his responsibilities and a new head coach appointed to take the team forward. 

The meeting authorised acting AIFF secretary-general M. Satyanarayan to notify Stimac of its decision to terminate his engagement. Stimac, like all members of the national team, has now taken a break after the qualifiers ended on Tuesday. 

The AIFF meeting, interestingly, was chaired by vice-president N.A. Haris instead of president Kalyan Choubey, and others in attendance were Menla Ethenpa (member, executive committee and chairperson, finance committee), Anilkumar Prabhakaran (member, executive committee and chairperson, competitions committee), I.M. Vijayan, (chairman, technical committee), Climax Lawrence (member, technical committee) and Satyanarayan. 

A notice of termination has been issued to Stimac by the AIFF secretariat, whereby he stands relieved of his obligations with immediate effect. The AIFF thanked Stimac for his services to the national team for five years from 2019, during which the Blue Tigers won a number of regional international tournaments last year apart from qualifying for the 2023 Asian Cup finals.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines