With the All India Football Federation (AIFF)'s Technical Committee on Thursday recommending his name for the top job, Croatia's World Cupper and former manager Igor Stimac is all set to become Indian football team's head coach. Once formally appointed, Stimac has a tough and challenging job at hand—to take Indian football to fresh heights.
"We have recommended Igor Stimac's name to the All India Football Federation's Executive Committee after interviewing all the four candidates. We found him as best suited to become India coach," said Technical Committee Chairman Shyam Thapa.
The AIFF is likely to officially announce Stimac's appointment as India's coach on Friday. Stimac's contract is likely to be for three years initially and his first assignment will be the Kings Cup international tournament in Thailand.
But who is Stimac?
The 51-year-old former footballer was a member of the Croatian team that finished third in the 1998 World Cup.
Born in the small town of Metkovic in the then Yugoslavia, Stimac has played in 53 international matches for Croatia as center-back between 1990 and 2002. He played at Euro 1996 and at the 1998 World Cup, when Croatia finished third.
Before that he played in 14 matches for Yugoslavia Under-20 team in 1987.
In club football, he played in 322 matches in all from 1985 to 2002. He had three spells with Croatian side Hajduk Split and also played for for Cadiz in Spain and for Derby County and West Ham United in England.
As coach, he was in charge of the Croatian national team from 2012 to 2013 and also guided the team to 2014 World Cup Finals. He has to his credit the experience of coaching Croatia's world cup winning captain Luka Moric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic.
He had brief spells in charge of Croatian teams like Hajduk Split, Cibalia, NK Zagreb and Zadar before trying his hand at Iranian club Sepahan and Qatari side Al-Shahania.
Owing to the Indian team's spirited showing in the AFC Asian Cup and a run of 13-match unbeaten streak prior to that, more than 250 candidates, including some top names from Europe, have applied for the job.
The list included the likes of France's World Cup winning coach Raymond Domenech, former England managers Sven-Goran Eriksson and Sam Allardyce.
The list was pruned down to 40 and finally only four candidates were shortlisetd for interview.
Stimac was the only candidate who turned up in person for the interview while the other three—South Korean Lee Min-sung, Spaniard Albert Roca and Hakan Ericson of Sweden—were interviewed via skype.
(With PTI inputs)