Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Cry for Stimac’s ouster grows


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Kolkata, March 27: Former India footballers feel there is ‘discord’ in the changing room and demanded the ouster of head coach Igor Stimac following India’s shocking 1-2 defeat to Afghanistan in the World Cup qualifiers.
Talismanic Sunil Chhetri struck in his landmark 150th international fixture but the 117th-ranked India squandered the one-goal advantage at halftime to let in two second-half goals by the world No 158 Afghanistan in their return leg clash in Guwahati on Tuesday.
Former India defender Gourmangi Singh feels something is “amiss” in the Indian dressing room, while former forward Dipendu Biswas slammed Stimac’s skewed team selection for the disastrous show and demanded his immediate ouster.
Echoing similar views, veteran Subrata Bhattacharya said that foreign coaches never brought laurels to the Indian team and called for an Indian coach to produce players of the calibre of “five-six” Sunil Chhetris.
“Remember that these are the same players who got praise for their historic draw against Qatar (in World Cup qualifiers 2022),” Gourmangi said.
“Last year, they achieved greater heights, winning three tournaments including the SAFFF Championships. For one year they were performing, earning everyone’s praise so suddenly what happened? It was the same team, same players, so what happened suddenly?” he asked.
“Even though I have been part of the Indian changing room there must be something missing somewhere. We’re not privy to what’s happening there. I’m unsure about the players’ relationship with Stimac.”
The All India Football Federation under Kalyan Chaubey has also made headlines for wrong reasons in the recent past since the sacking of its secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran for “breach of trust” in November last year.
This has coincided with India’s Asian Games fiasco and a disastrous show in the Asian Cup. India struggled to make a team for the Hangzhou showpiece and reached just hours before the continental showpiece.
And, at the Asian Cup early this year, India failed to score a single goal from three outings, and extended their goalless run to six successive matches till Chhetri ended the drought in his 150th International appearance on Tuesday.
‘Get house in order’
Gourmangi further urged the stakeholders to get the “house in order”.
“I don’t want to take names but the AIFF’s recent incidents may have had an impact on the field too. It’s like if the parents are quarrelling then the effect will be seen on the kids. You need to get the house in order. If the players don’t progress and continue playing the same, then of course, we can point fingers,” said the FC Goa assistant coach.
Former attacking midfielder Biswas, who is now the football secretary of Mohammedan Sporting, criticised Stimac for the over-reliance on Chhetri.
He is of the view that not giving opportunities to young talents from tournaments like I-League, Santosh Trophy and Calcutta Premier Division, has impeded Indian football as India continue to bank heavily on Chhetri nearly two decades after he made his debut.
“It’s a very depressing situation that players who have performed well in Durand Cup, Kolkata League or I-League, which has more viewership than the top-tier ISL, don’t catch any attention,” Biswas said.
“We keep saying why we don’t have another Chhetri but if we don’t give chances to these performing players how will the talents emerge?” he questioned.
‘Flawed selection proving detrimental’
Biswas cited example of Manipuri forward David Lalhlansanga, who has 30-plus goals this season for Mohammedan Sporting.
“But nobody knows David, thanks to Stimac’s flawed selection policies. Earlier, players were not only picked from National League but Santosh Trophy and Kolkata League also got equal significance. Now these players’ dreams are dashed.”
Demanding immediate ouster of Stimac, Biswas said: “The coach should not be spared after such a show. If he takes the credit for the win, he should be equally responsible for the defeat. (PTI)


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