The Blue Tigers have been led by several foreign tacticians over the years.

The AIFF have put in a great deal of effort to lift the country’s football up in the last few decades. It involved going as far as hiring foreign coaches for the Indian football team with considerable experience.

The arrival of Hungarian manager Jozsef Gelei in 1990 opened the floodgates. Since then, eight more foreign coaches has managed Indian football team, including Igor Stimac.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for local coaches. Syed Nayeemuddin, Armando Colaco, Savio Medeira and others are some of the Indian names who’ve managed the side during the same time period.

Here, we track down the last head 10 coaches of the Indian football team before Stimac:

10. Stephen Constantine

Stephen Constantine
Constantine was in charge of India for seven years across two stints

In his vast managerial career, Stephen Constantine has coached five different national sides, including India. Before Igor Stimac took over the helm in 2019, he was in his second spell with the Blue Tigers.

The Englishman took India from 173 in the FIFA rankings at the time of his appointment to 97 in 2018. Constantine also guided them back into the AFC Asian Cup in 2019.

However, a disappointing finish at the bottom of their group in the competition prompted him to resign. Following a two-year hiatus, Constantine returned to coaching in 2021 with Cypriot side Pafos.

9. Wim Koevermans

Under Koevermans, India recorded it’s lowest rakings in history

Wim Koevermans was one of the overseas coaches of the Indian football team in the last decade. But even though he boasted a decent record of winning 40% of his matches, the Dutchman’s tenure was full of ups and downs.

He led the Blue Tigers to Nehru Cup in his first year in charge. However, a humiliating loss to Afghanistan in the 2013 SAFF Championship finals, saw India drop to 175th in the FIFA rankings. After this, a friendly loss to Palestine proved to be the last straw for him.

Koevermans hasn’t taken up a coaching role anywhere since.

8. Savio Medeira

The first Indian manager on this list, Savio Medeira’s six-month tenure with the Blue Tigers is remembered for being a tale of two halves. In the first three months, he led India to the 2011 SAFF Cup title. However, in the next, his side went totally off the boil, losing every 2012 AFC Challenge Cup game without scoring a goal.

Medeira became their assistant manager in the aftermath, first under Koevermans and then under Constantine. He’s been out of the scene since quitting his role in 2015.

7. Armando Colaco

Colaco managed the Blue Tigers for only six games

Widely considered as one of best Indian coaches, Armando Colaco didn’t enjoy much success with the national football team. In six games that he managed, India won just once, a 2-1 friendly against Qatar. His tenure ended after some controversy involving the AIFF.

Following an almost two years hiatus, Colaco returned to managing East Bengal in 2013. In 2015, he was appointed as the head coach of FC Bardez in the Goa Professional League.

6. Bob Houghton

Bob Houghton managed the Indian football team for five difficult years, eventually leaving with three trophies under his belt. He’s also credited for helping the Blue Tigers qualify for the AFC Asian Cup in 2011 after 27 years, even though his side bowed out in the group stages after finishing without a point.

Despite the predicted outcome, the AIFF looked to sack him. However, the Englishman tendered his resignation before that. Houghton didn’t return to coaching since and has retired from management.

5. Syed Nayeemuddin

The last Indian footballer to become the national team coach, Syed Nayeemuddin had three different spells with the Blue Tigers. His last stint lasted less than a year, as the side’s poor results in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers prompted him to resign.

Over the next 12 years, Nayeemuddin continued his managerial career in Bangladesh with Brothers Union and Dhaka Mohammedan, before retiring in 2019.

4. Sukhwinder Singh

Singh oversaw a memorable 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign

Not the Bollywood singer. After five years with JCT, he was appointed as the head coach of Indian football team in 2001. He oversaw a memorable qualifying campaign for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

The Blue Tigers were just a whisker away from advancing into the second round, but failure to beat Yemen in the final game saw UAE advance into the second round of qualifiers.

It prompted Singh to step down despite a good record and continued his career with various Indian clubs. He retired in 2014 after one year with Rising Students Club in Odisha.

3. Islam Akhmedov

The Uzbek manager replaced Sukhwinder Singh after his first spell. But, he was more of an emergency appointment for the Millennium Super Soccer Cup, which India lost to Iceland.

At the time, Akhmedov was also managing India’s youth sides, a role he left in 2002. Over the next decade, he managed several clubs in his native country as well as Kyrgyzstan, whilst also returning to manage the Indian youth teams for the second time in 2005.

He was last seen with Kyrgyz side Abdysh-Ata in 2012.

2. Rustam Akramov

Six years before Islam Akhmedov, the Indian football team sought another manager from Uzbekistan in Rustam Akramov. Even though he lasted more than a game into the job, the Blue Tigers posted mostly poor results under him.

It began with a 5-0 thrashing against Thailand in the 1995 Nehru Cup. His stint came to an end with a 6-0 mauling by Qatar in the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. In the intervening period, India won only four times, the best result being defeating the Philippines 2-0 in the qualifying group.

After vacating his position in 1998, he returned to Uzbekistan, assuming the role of a technical director with their national side.

1. Jiří Pešek

The late Czech tactician enjoyed a highly successful career in both playing and managerial capacity, each lasting over 25 years. Before retiring in 1994, he was head coach of the Indian football team for a year and oversaw a moderate time.

Pešek went the first 11 games without a victory, including losing their first six games in the 1994 World Cup qualifiers. But following a small turnaround in form, the Blue Tigers once again fumbled, losing in the 1993 South Asian Games finals to Nepal.

He stepped down in the aftermath and called time on his career. Pešek passed away in 2011.

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