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2022 World Cup Qualifiers: How has India performed under head coach Igor Stimac?

11:18 AM IST 16/06/21
Igor Stimac, India practice
India have won only twice in 15 matches under Igor Stimac's tutelage...

India's 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign ended with a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan on Tuesday at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.

By finishing third in Group E, Igor Stimac's side directly progressed to the 2023 Asian Cup qualifying third round.

Stimac took charge of the Indian team back in May 2019 on a two-year deal that was supposed to expire last month. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has now extended his stay until September 2021.

The highlight of the Stimac era was the Blue Tigers' draw against reigning Asian champions Qatar in 2019. A gritty Indian side without their star player Sunil Chhetri had managed to hold the mighty Qataris to a goalless draw in their second World Cup qualifying game in Doha. It was a spirited performance by the Blue Tigers and a lot of credit must go to their coach.

In his stint so far, the former Croatian international handed debuts to as many as 20 Indian footballers. FC Goa's midfielder Glan Martins became the 20th player to make his international debut under Stimac on June 3 against Qatar.

Under Stimac's tutelage, India have won only two matches. Their first win came against Thailand on June 8, 2019, in the King's Cup in Buriram where Anirudh Thapa's strike had made the difference.

India's results under Igor Stimac

Date Match Competition Scorers Venue
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
July 7, 2019 India 2-4 Tajikistan Intercontinental Cup Sunil Chhetri (2) Ahmedabad
July 13, 2019 India 2-5 DPR Korea Intercontinental Cup Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sunil Chhetri Ahmedabad
July 16, 2019 India 1-1 Syria Intercontinental Cup Narender Gahlot 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 Len Doungel Dushanbe
November 19, 2019 Oman 1-0 India 2022 World Cup qualifiers          - Muscat
March 25, 2021 Oman 1-1 India International friendly Manvir 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 Ovays Azizi (OG)  

Challenges faced by coach Igor Stimac

The biggest challenge that the Croatian faced as India's coach was the 16 months gap where the Indian national team did not play a single game due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. After a busy 2019, where the Blue Tigers played 10 matches under Stimac's tutelage, not a single international match was played in 2020. 

Thus after playing their last competitive game in November 2019, it was only in March 2021, that Stimac got to reassemble the squad. India played two friendly matches against Oman and UAE in March 2021.