SAFF Championship: Which managers have lifted the trophy with India?

Igor Stimac just got India SAFF glory, but who else has achieved the feat?

indian managers

India lifted their 8th SAFF Championship title yesterday by defeating Nepal 3-0 in the final and remain the most dominant team in the history of the tournament. India’s first of the total eight titles came in the inaugural edition of the tournament, when the team was led by head coach Jiri Pesek.

The latest triumph prior to 2021 came in 2015, when Stephen Constantine headed the dugout and Igor Stimac’s victory makes him the third foreign coach to lead the Indian team to glory. Igor Stimac did not have the full squad with him as star defender Sandesh Jhingan and goalkeeper Amrinder Singh were missing from his ranks.

Igor Stimac became the sixth different coach to win the tournament with India, therefore let us look at the other managers, their nationality and the year of victory, succeeding in getting India the cup.  

Jiri Pesek – Czech Republic – 1993

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Jiri Pesek won the 1993 edition with the Indian team which was led by captain and star defender VP Sathyan. Pesek was a Czech Republican national who played for several big clubs like Sparta Praha and Slavia Praha. As a manager, he coached the national team of Finland and other countries.

Syed Nayeemuddin – India – 1997, 2005

In 1997, Nayeemuddin was named India’s coach, and he promptly won the SAFF Championship by defeating the Maldives 5–1. His first stint with India ended after the Asian Games in December 1998, but his second stint with the country began when he took over as coach from Sukhwinder Singh in 2005, capturing his second SAFF title.

Sukhwinder Singh – India – 1999, 2009

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Sukhwinder Singh is most known for winning the SAFF Championship with the Indian senior squad in 1999 and with the India U-23 team in 2009. Singh is also most regarded for India’s performance in the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers, where they finished second in their group owing only to goal difference.

Savio Medeira – India – 2011

Savio Medeira was appointed in the later days of 2011 and his first assignment was to win the SAFF Championship in December 2011. He succeeded in doing it as India beat Afghanistan 4-0, in the final. Savio coached India during the 2012 match against Bayern Munich where they lost the game 4-0.

Stephen Constantine – England – 2016

Constantine was one of the best managers India ever had as he helped the team climb from 173 to 97 in the FIFA rankings in a span of three years. He also won the Sports Illustrated Coach of the Year with India. His SAFF glory came in January 2016, when India beat Afghanistan in the final by a 2-1 margin.

Igor Stimac – Croatia – 2021

Stimac is easily one of the most high-profile names to become the manager of the Indian Natioanl team managers as he also coached the Croatian National team and took them to sky high position in the FIFA ranking. Stimac has changed the style of play drastically as India eased their way to their eighth SAFF trophy yesterday.

Also read: The post-Sunil Chhetri era: What would happen to the Indian setup after Chhetri retires?