Chhetri heralds Stimac-era with passionate rallying cry

Indian football has a new steward at the helm and the nation is excited to see what the man has to offer. Former Croatian defender Igor Stimac's appointment as the new head coach of the Indian national football team won some grand plaudits from players and fans alike on Wednesday and leading the line was none other than Indian football's talisman Sunil Chhetri.

Picture Courtesy: AFC Media

Soon after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) made the news public on Wednesday, Chhetri took to social media to welcome the former Croatian international to India. "I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the new boss, Igor Stimac on his appointment as coach of the National team. He brings with him tremendous experience of having coached on some of the biggest stages in football. We will do well to benefit from it," Chhetri wrote in his welcome post for the new gaffer.

"This will be a process, one towards which we will be giving nothing less than 100%. I’ve already spoken with the boys from the National team, and we have begun working on our fitness as we will need to switch modes soon," India's all-time top scorer continued.

The iconic no. 11 concluded his post with a rallying cry for the fans to get behind the new regime and help Indian football reach new heights. "While there is a change in guard at the helm, what doesn’t change is our desire to keep improving. What I am also assuming won’t change is the way all you fans have backed us. Let’s all turn to this new chapter together," he wrote in the last of his series of tweets.

Chhetri's teammates, national team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defender Pritam Kotal, too, extended warm welcomes to the new head coach.

Stimac will bring with him the experience of having played and coached in the biggest arenas of international football. During his playing days, Stimac was part of the famed Croatian Golden Generation, alongside the likes of Davur Suker, Zvonimir Boban and Slaven Bilic, who shocked the world by reaching the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup 1998 in France. After hanging up his boots as a player, Stimac also had a stint as the head coach of the Croatian national team from 2012 to 2013 and played a crucial role during the formative years of modern-day superstars like Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic and others. The same batch would later go onto form the core of the squad which reached the final of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.

The Croat is, undoubtedly, the most high-profile personality assigned to the post and his guidance may just prove invaluable in India's quest to scale new heights on the international stage. Indian football is headed for a new beginning under Stimac, with the King’s Cup in Thailand from June 5 set to be the very first chapter.

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