Former Croatia international Igor Stimac is all set to be appointed as the new coach of the Indian men’s national team, after being recommended for the same by the AIFF's (All India Football Federation) Technical Committee.
Stimac, who coached Croatia previously in a 15-month spell, is the favourite to succeed Stephen Constantine now.
The Technical Committee has put forward the Croat's name to AIFF's Executive Committee who will now ratify the decision.
"We have chosen Croatian Igor Stimac from the interviews. Every committee member and AIFF members questioned him and got a satisfactory reply. His preparation for Indian football is impressive. He has knowledge about the country. He is good so we all have decided to appoint him as the new head coach.
"The other candidates were also good. Swedish coach Hakan Ericson was also impressive. We also spoke with Albert Roca. We ultimately found Igor to be the best candidate out of these four," said Shyam Thapa, chairman of Technical Committee, to Goal.
Whereas, AIFF general secretary Kushal Das informed about the extensive selection process that underwent behind the appointment.
"The selection process started a long time ago. We had 250 applications and they were divided into various pots. People with UEFA Pro License, people with UEFA Pro License plus national team experience and then the third pot was UEFA Pro License, national team experience and international experience. And the last one we kept was no national team experience but reasonably good club football experience.
"Based on that 24 names were initially shortlisted, then the technical committee further shortlisted it to 12 and then we asked them about their expectations, the budget, their availability. Based on that four names were shortlisted. The interviews were held today and they have recommended one name to the executive committee," confirmed Das to Goal after the meeting.
Stimac, Albert Roca, Lee Ming-sung and Hakan Ericson had been the four final candidates shortlisted for the job by the AIFF after an extensive search with the Croatian emerging as the preferred choice after the interviews were conducted. In fact, Stimac is the only candidate who attended the interview in person.
The 51-year-old had previously taken charge of the Croatian national team in July, 2012 before resigning from his role in October, 2013. During his spell in charge of Croatia, Stimac guided the team to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying play-offs.
Apart from his national team coaching experience, Stimac has also won laurels at the club level. He led his hometown club Hadjuk Split to the Croatian First Football League title in 2004-05 while also taking the side all the way to the final in the Croatian Football Cup in the same year.
The former defender also has 53 caps as a player for Croatia between 1990 and 2002 and represented the national team during the 1998 World Cup in France. Stimac’s central defensive partnership with Slaven Bilic was crucial to Croatia’s dream run to the 1998 World Cup semi-final.
The former Croatia international had stints in England with Derby and West Ham as a player and went on to gain cult status at the former.