India head coach Stimac to serve just one-match ban

Bengaluru: Head coach Igor Stimac will return to the India dug out in the game against Kuwait on Tuesday after serving one-match ban for his red-card offence against Pakistan in the home side’s SAFF Championships opener here.

South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) General Secretary Anwarul Huq told PTI that Stimac’s offence was not serious enough to attract a ban of more than one match and as such it will not be referred to the SAFF Disciplinary Committee for further action.

“He (Stimac) will serve a one-match ban, not more than that,” he said from Dhaka on Thursday.

He said the report of the referee and match commissioner mentioned the scuffle during the match which had led to Stimac’s expulsion from the field of play but it would not be sent to the SAFF Disciplinary Committee.

“It (the offence) was not so serious that it would merit referring the matter to the Disciplinary Committee (for a harsher punishment).” Stimac, a vastly experienced coach and 1998 World Cup bronze medallist for Croatia, interfered when Pakistan player Abdullah Iqbal was ready to make a throw-in. He tried to pull back the ball from the player, sparking wild reactions from some Pakistani players as well as some coaching staff.

The referee Prajwal Chhetri and other match officials had to intervene to separate the intensely sparring individuals.

As the scuffle was brought under control referee Chhetri showed red card to Stimac, as per the football rules, for interrupting with the actions of an opposition player deliberately.

Stimac could not stand on the sideline for the rest of the match, with former India defending Mahesh Gawli doing the duty on the touchline.

Gawli will also take charge of the Indian team against Nepal on Saturday before Stimac returns for the last group match against Kuwait.

A red card (direct or indirect) generally attracts one-match ban for a player or coach but the punishment can be increased up to suspension of four matches if the offence is grave.