Stimac: Old pal Robert Jarni will help in developing Indian football

With the announcement of NorthEast United FC head coach Robert Jarni, Indian football will witness another Croatian taking over the managerial hot seat, after Igor Stimac was handed over the reins of the Indian Football Team earlier this year. An association which dates back to three decades, Stimac and Jarni were part of the then Yugoslavia youth outfit, representing the nation at the U-20 FIFA World Cup held in 1987 in Chile.

After ending as group winners, Yugoslavia came out on top in their stern knockout fixtures, eventually going on to win the title for the first time. The duo played an integral part in all those wins, with the Indian coach even scoring in a few matches including a strike in the semifinal.

Following on from that success, both Stimac and Jarni found their way into the Croatia senior team, further developing their understanding of each other. The pair made it into FIFA’s 1998 World Cup squad, where they exceeded expectations and helped the country finish third in the tournament.

Soon after achieving that height, the duo put an end to their playing career, focusing instead on their future managerial aspirations and thereby going their separate ways. A decade and a half later though, the Croatians are back fighting in similar roles and for somewhat the same goal of taking Indian football to greater heights.

Ever since he was appointed the coach of the Indian football team, Stimac has stressed on the important role that Hero ISL clubs must play in the development and education of young players. Jarni’s appointment at the helm of the Highlanders will greatly help in realizing this aspect of Stimac’s plans, as the two have an innate understanding of each other’s ideas and knowledge.

“I am personally very happy about his appointment,” said the thrilled Blue Tigers coach on Jarni taking over at NorthEast. “I congratulate my old pal Robert, and his new club and wish them great work, and a successful future. He was a fantastic player and had been working hard in the last 10 years in developing football in Croatia. Hope he will settle well in India and help us in the AIFF in the process of securing a better future for Indian football.”

The Highlanders have some brilliant youngsters in the likes of Redeem Tlang and Lalthathanga Khawlhring, who if given the opportunity and guidance, can make it into the Blue Tigers squad in the near future. Jarni’s expertise and thorough know-how of Stimac’s ways can simplify the transition of these players into the national squad, thereby making the 51-year-old’s task an easier one.

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