Igor Stimac is all set to begin his charge as coach of the Indian national team as the Blue Tigers get ready to begin their King's Cup 2019 campaign in Thailand.
Stimac arrives at the job with a massive reputation after having taken charge of Croatia’s 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and there is plenty of expectations riding on his first outing as India boss.
As the Croat gets ready for his India coaching bow, we look at how the previous 10 coaches of the team have fared on their debut games.
March 12, 2015: India 2-0 Nepal
Stimac’s predecessor Stephen Constantine was appointed as the India coach for a second time in 2015 to succeed Wim Kovermans. The Englishman’s first match saw India take on Nepal in the first-leg of the World Cup qualifier against Nepal at home (Guwahati) where two second-half goals from Sunil Chhetri sealed a 2-0 win for India.
22 August, 2012: India 2-1 Syria
The Dutchman began his tenure with the 2012 Nehru Cup held at the Jawahar Lala Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
Sunil Chhetri bagged a goal in Koeverman’s first-game as well with the striker giving India the lead against Syria at the stroke of half-time. Anthony Pereira doubled India’s lead in the 84th minute of the clash before Alaa Al Shbli pulled a consolation goal back for Syria in the dying minutes.
13 November, 2011: India 1-1 Malaysia
Margao-born Savio Medeira’s brief stint as India coach started with an international friendly against Malaysia at Guwahati.
It was the visitors who took the lead in the game with Mohd Safiq Rahim putting Malaysia ahead in the 42nd minute. India managed to snatch a late equaliser with Syed Rahim Nabi registering the goal in the 85th minute.
10 July, 2011: Maldives 1-1 India
Mediera had succeeded another Goan native in Armando Colaco who too had a brief stint as India coach.
Colaco oversaw a 1-1 draw against Maldives at their capital in Male in his first game in charge. The island nation came back even after conceding first to a Sunil Chhetri-goal in the 18th minute.
16 August, 2006: India 0-3 Saudi Arabia
Bob Houghton had a long five-year stint as the coach of India until 2012 and it all started with an AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup qualifier against the formidable Saudi Arabia at home.
It was an India debut to forget for the Englishman ultimately at Kolkata with Saudi Arabia crushing the hosts 3-0.
Hussein Abdul Ghani gave the visitors an early lead in the second minute before Yasser Al Qahtani doubled it in the 18th minute.
Al Khatani would score again in the 52nd minute to seal a thumping win for Saudi Arabia.
December 8, 2005: India 2-1 Nepal
Like Constantine, Syed Nayeemuddin too had two stints as India coach with the second of them coming in 2005.
His first assignment was the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Cup held in Karachi, Pakistan where India opened their Group B campaign against Nepal.
Mehtab Hossain’s brace in the early minutes gave India a flying start before Basanta Thapa pulled a goal back in the 35th minute. Nayeemuddin’s men would however, hold on to the scoreline to make a winning start.
June 12, 2005: Pakistan 1-1 India
Sukhwinder Singh too had two stints as coach of India with the second of them being a brief affair in 2005.
His first assignment in the second stint was a three-match test series at the home of India’s arch-rivals Pakistan. In the first game at Quetta, a young Sunil Chhetri gave India the lead in the 65th minute but the hosts restored parity through Muhammad Essa in the 78th minute.
The shares would ultimately be shared equally by both teams.
August, 2002: India 2-2 Singapore
Constantine’s first stint as coach of India started in 2002 with the LG U23 Cup in Vietnam being his maiden assignment.
India would go on to famously win the tournament but it all started with a 2-2 draw against Singapore at Ho Chi Minh City.
Mohammed Fazil’s early own goal put India ahead before Aliff Shafaein Bin Safie put Singapore in command with a brace. India restored parity through K Ajayan’s goal in the 65th minute ultimately.
January, 2001: India 0-3 Iceland
Having previously taken charge of India’s youth teams, Islam Ahmedov was given the reins of the senior team in 2001. The Uzbek’s first assignment was the Millennium Cup held at Kochi where India rubbed shoulders with Iceland and Uruguay.
India were handed a 3-0 thrashing by Iceland in the opener with Tryggvi Gudmundsson bagging a hat-trick. The hosts would later be turned over by the same margin by Uruguay.
22 April, 1999: India 0-0 Bangladesh
Sukhwinder’s first stint as India coach came in 1999 with the SAFF Cup being his first task. India opened their campaign against Bangladesh with the game ending in a goal-less stalemante.
The Blue Tigers would eventually go on to lift the title for the second time in history after beating Bangladesh in the final.