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AFC Asian Cup: Coach Igor Stimac Shares Plans Ahead Of The Continental Event

The Indian men's football coach stated that a lot of research will go into determining the kinds of preparations needed for the Asian Cup. As part of the process, he will take inspiration from the FIFA World Cup teams and how they are preparing.

Igor Stimac has his eyes set on 2023 Asian Cup preparations.
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Calling for careful planning for 2023 Asian Cup, Indian men's football team coach Igor Stimac says he will be using the upcoming FIFA World Cup to build case studies, which will help in preparing the team for the continental event. (More Football News)

India have little more than a year to prepare for the AFC Asian Cup.

"I will study what kind of results different kinds of preparations produce and come up with a plan for us as well. It's very important that we sit down with FSDL (commercial partners) soon and plan next season's calendar, which needs to give the national team enough time to prepare," said Stimac. 

"The Asian Cup will be in January 2024, which will probably be mid-season in Indian football, so we must plan carefully. 

"Over the last few weeks, I've been following different national teams that will participate in the World Cup, and how they are preparing for it. It differs from team to team."

The introduction of promotion will make the I-League longer, intense and competitive, says Stimac.

As per the roadmap approved by the Asian Football Confederations (AFC), the winners of the 2022-23 and 2023-24 I-League seasons will stand a chance to gain promotion to the top-tier ISL without any participation fee, provided they fulfil the club licensing criteria.

Speaking on the roadmap that lies ahead for Indian football, Stimac opined, "I am very happy about this. We have finally been successful in convincing everyone about the importance of promotion from the I-League to the ISL, and that's a big step.

"It will bring something very important to our league system – competitiveness, and it will bring something the I-League clubs will have to fight for." 

"I also can't wait for the time when the relegation starts as well, because the competitiveness will be present at that level too. It will bring more pace and intensity to such games."

Stimac feels though it may take a couple of years for the ISL to expand, the step will be an important one.

"Yes, we need to wait a couple of years for it to happen, but the league will finally become what it needs to be in regards to the size, the number of clubs and so on," he said.

"That will be really good for football in India, as the players will get more matches, and we as national team coaches will get to see them in action more, before we make the decision on who to call up."

Stimac, who is currently in Croatia, said he will be following the fortunes of the I-League clubs closely.

"The last two years have been difficult for players in both the leagues, with the bio-bubble. But I would like to tell all the players in the I-League that you can now enjoy the football that you play and express yourselves. We are going to follow you closely," said Stimac. 

"The AFC Asian Cup is not too far away, and as long as you hold an Indian passport, you stand a chance to play for the national team."

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