The recent defeat of the Indian football team against Afghanistan in the World Cup qualifier, marking a winless streak of six matches, has raised doubts about the team’s potential under coach Igor Stimac.

Both fans and sports authorities, including the Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), have sought explanations from the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) regarding this disappointing performance. Media reports highlighted post-match protests from Indian football fans in Guwahati, with chants demanding “Igor Stimac out”.

In response, AIFF has formed a five-member committee to engage in discussions with Stimac. Despite Stimac’s previous successes, which earned him a contract extension until 2026, media outlets now critique his leadership and coaching techniques. Stimac’s tendency to deflect blame adds to the concerns.

In February he wrote to AIFF in his Asian Cup postmortem report, “How we can expect more from our boys if we had never in our history qualified for the Asian Cup in U18/U20/U23?.” There is growing perception that Stimac is reluctant to take ownership of a loss.

The ongoing winless streak signals a need for a reassessment of strategy and tactics. If Stimac fails to deliver improved results or make a shift in the strategy, in the upcoming matches against Qatar and Kuwait in June, the pressure to change the coach will be enormous.

However, addressing the team’s setbacks should not solely focus on Stimac’s leadership. AIFF needs to consider scheduling conflicts with domestic championships like the Indian Super League (ISL).

Moreover, investing in more friendly matches abroad can help. Achieving the objectives of India’s Vision 2047 require strategic planning beyond addressing individual coaching concerns.