SAFF Championship: India football coach Igor Stimac shown a red card for knocking the ball from a Pakistan player’s hands


Indian coach Igor Stimac was shown the red card late in the first half for knocking the ball from the hands of a Pakistan player who was trying to make a quick throw-in after a disputed decision during a Group A SAFF Championship match being held at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru. India were leading by two goals at this point.

After defenders Pritam Kotal and Abdullah Iqbal were contesting for a ball, there was momentary confusion over who should take the throw-in. But Iqbal took the ball and attempted to release it immediately to continue play. Stimac, presumably trying to stop the quick throw-in by the Pakistani player, tried to knock the ball out of Iqbal’s hand, causing Pakistani players to surround him while making their protest known to the referee. The touchline situation escalated into Indian and Pakistani players surrounding each other.

Sunil Chhetri tried to be a voice of reason amidst both teams surrounding each other, and was finally able to separate the warring sides. But the referee took his red card out for Stimac and also handed yellows to the Pakistan head coach Shehzad Anwar and Rahis Nabi, as well as Indian defender Sandesh Jhinghan.

With Stimac gone, former Indian defender Mahesh Gawli was seen in the dugout helping the Indian team. India finished the first half with two goals and then added two more in the second half to run out comfortable victors against Pakistan in their first match of the SAFF Championships.

The incident took place minutes before the referee was set to blow the whistle for the first half to end. India were already leading by two goals – the first coming from a blunder from Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif, who failed to clear the ball and allowed an oncoming Sunil Chhetri to steal it away for an easy tap-in.

The second goal was a penalty after Pakistan’s handball in the box was noticed by the referee. Chhetri slapped the ball into the goal from the spot and India were up by two goals and were comfortable when the Stimac incident took place.


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