Bora Milutinovic isn’t widely talked about now, but is one of the most celebrated football coaches of all-time. Known as the “Miracle Worker” for taking four countries — Mexico, Costa Rica, the United States, and Nigeria — to the first round of World Cups, the 74-year-old is a highly-respected figure worldwide.
And when the Serbian, who has coached eight countries across three continents, says Igor Stimac’s appointment as the Indian men’s football team coach is a great move for the Asian nation, you take his word.
Speaking to Sportstar at the launch of the Al Janoub Stadium in Doha, the septuagenarian asserted that Stimac’s arrival is terrific news for Indian football. “India has a very good coach now in Igor Stimac. He is a former Croatia coach and is very good. His appointment is excellent for India,” he said.
Milutinovic knows Stimac all too well, having seen the Croat play at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. Milutinovic has an even closer connection to Indian football as the newly appointed technical director, Doru Isac, had worked under him.
– Important to have World Cup in Asia –
The Serb had also previously coached Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd, which lost the Amir Cup final to Al Duhail on Thursday. Talking about the newly-built Al Janoub Stadium, which is the first FIFA 2022 World Cup Stadium to be built from scratch, he said “It’s perfect, it’s beautiful. I’m impressed. You need to look at the time they built this in and their vision. It is impressive.”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar is the first time an Arab nation is hosting the quadrennial event and is also the first time it’s being held in Asia in two decades. Having the distinction of being only one of the two coaches to have attended five World Cups as a manager, Milutinovic opined “it’s really important to have a World Cup in Asia after South Korea-Japan in 2002.” Interestingly, he was at the helm of the Chinese team the last time a World Cup was held in Asia in 2002.
The writer is in Qatar at the invitation of Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy