Posted on: 2021-10-13 20:49:08
India have reached the final of the SAFF Championship 2021 after a 3-1 win over Maldives on Wednesday at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives.
This was the fifth time that the Blue Tigers managed to win a game since Igor Stimac became the head of the team two years ago in May 2019. India have till now played 21 matches under the Croatian Coach’s tutelage out of which they have won five times, lost seven matches, and drew nine times.
The Blue Tigers’ 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.
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 21 Indian footballers. FC Goa full-back Seriton Fernandes and Chennaiyin FC forward Rahim Ali became the 21st and 22nd players to make their international debuts under Stimac on September 2 against Nepal.
How has India performed under Igor Stimac? Date Match Competition Indian Goalscorers 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) Doha September 2, 2021 Nepal 1-1 India International friendly Anirudh Thapa Kathmandu September 5, 2021 Nepal 1-2 India International friendly Farukh Chaudhary, Sunil Chhetri Kathmandu October 4, 2021 Bangladesh 1-1 India SAFF Championship 2021 Sunil Chhetri Male October 7, 2021 India 0-0 Sri Lanka SAFF Championship 2021 – Male October 10, 2021 Nepal 0-1 India SAFF Championship 2021 Sunil Chhetri Male October 13, 2021 India 3-1 Maldives SAFF Championship 2021 Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri (2) Male 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.
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