Indian football team qualified for AFC Asian Cup 2023 with flying colours finishing on top of their group in the qualifiers. Coach Igor Stimac expressed his views on Indian football and the respect it needs in favour to make it more successful. At an intense press conference after India defeated Hong Kong 4-0 at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata, Stimac said, “Things need to be sorted out about the football calendar, which is still being adjusted with regards to IPL and broadcasting. This needs to stop if we want to make football great in India. Football calendar should not depend on other things.”

The Blue Tigers were impressive in their AFC Asian Cup qualifiers campaign defeating all the three teams – Cambodia, Afghanistan and Hong Kong on their way to qualify for the Asian event. While both the ISL and IPL have the same broadcasting platform, Stimac expressed utter disappointment on Indian football being adjusted according to the cricket calender.

The Indian team coach also had some words for IPL’s new deal, which has touched nearly $6 billion, “India is blessed to have a sport as popular as cricket but shouldn’t be afraid to have another sport becoming as popular. And to do so, they need to open the door to football. Otherwise, it will not happen. Football shouldn’t suffer because of cricket.”

Clearly, Stimac took some shots at the authorities from both sports (football and cricket) of India and suggested that for the betterment of Indian football, things need to change and they need to change quickly. The Blue Tigers squad along with the support staff gathered in Bellary on April 23 and trained till May 8. After that, they had moved to Calcutta (hosts of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers) continuing the camp till the end of qualifiers. The hardwork put in by the players and coaching team resulted in the performance and dominance they ended up with.

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