The Blue Tigers are currently coached by the Vatreni’s former star Igor Stimac.
Igor Stimac has already taken India to new strides with the historic draw against AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar, but his big ambitions are finally showing with the Blue Tigers set to face their biggest challenge in a long time.
Thanks to their coach’s heritage with the European nation, India are likely to play FIFA World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia in an international friendly game soon.
Croatia are themselves involved in the 2020 UEFA European Championship qualification campaign right now, leading Group E which also involves Wales, Slovakia, Hungary and Azerbaijan.
The 2020 UEFA Euros are set to take place in June, so the European giants would also be looking for some preparation and could be set to face their former star’s side in March.
According to the Times of India, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das travelled to Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb to hold initial talks wit Croatia Football Federation president Davor Suker.
Suker is obviously a close friend of Stimac, having played with him many years ago. The talks are reported to have been discussions about coach education and youth development in Indian football.
🇭🇷🇮🇳 Croatian Football Federation and president Davor Šuker host @IndianFootball representatives, including national team head coach Igor Štimac, former #Croatia international.#BeProud #Family pic.twitter.com/WOSMn38rrA— HNS (@HNS_CFF) September 22, 2019
Das seemed happy with how the talks progressed and told TOI, “This was our first meeting. It was good. Croatia is very strong with their youth development and produce so many great footballers. They made it to the World Cup final too. There is a possibility of playing friendlies, but we will have more clarity in November when we meet again.”
As per the AIFF General Secretary, a high-profile Croatian delegation led by Suker would be travelling to India on November 27 for more definite talks and to ink a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the AIFF.
The game itself is supposed to take place in the international break window of March 23-31. The Blue Tigers are to host Qatar in the return leg World Cup qualifier on 26th March in a game reported to take place at the Kalinga Stadium in Odisha.
India have never met Croatia on the international stage, but faced them in an U-19 friendly game last year, when they were beaten 5-0 by their opponents.
While a potential international friendly between the senior teams lies on the horizon, Croatia would be the perfect challenge to determine India’s abilities against the world’s best.