1/20/2019 1:26:25 PM (GMT+3)

Indian or foreign coach: AIFF remain undecided

Indian or foreign coach: AIFF remain undecided

KOLKATA: A raging debate has ensued on the nationality of the next Indian football coach after Stephen Constantine stepped down as head coach following Indian team’s ouster at the AFC Asian Cup in Sharjah last week,

As the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is yet to decide on the new coach, www.khelupdates.com tried to feel the pulse of the fraternity who seemed to be divided on the topic.

For the record, Indian football’s honeymoon with the foreign coaches is now almost a decade-old after Syed Nayeemuddin was unceremoniously shown the door in 2006.

Thereafter, the (AIFF) introduced Bob Houghton who had met with some success in a couple of regional competitions including Nehru Cups, but the debacle that followed at the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar meant his Indian sojourn was cut short.

“As long as a manager can handle the team with authority and respect, be it a foreigner or an Indian, I won’t mind seeing him as the next coach,” said former India defender Gourmangi Singh, who played under both Constantine and Houghton.

Jamshedpur FC assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed, who had plied his trade at Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting during his playing career, favoured Shamguam Venkatesh for the top post.

“Personally, I feel Venkatesh has done well as Constantine’s assistant. He deserves to become the next coach. The AIFF must have faith in the Indians and give them a chance. Derrick Pereira is also a vastly experienced manager who’s qualified for the role,” said Ahmed.

Constantine, who succeeded Wim Koevermans for his second term in 2015, had a successful stint which saw the national team qualify for 2019 Asian Cup and also there was a marginal improvement in their rankings.

But some of his theories were extremely unpopular including his rotational policy which has failed to create a core team.

The Englishman, surprisingly, also rotated the team captain in the tournament and picked defender Pranay Halder to lead against Bahrain in their last group game in Sharjah.

“I’m not opposed to the foreign-coach theory, but I also want the Indians to get the opportunity and showcase their talent. Houghton, Koevermans and Stephen Constantine are good, but I would love to see an Indian as the next manager,” said Former international Mohammad Farid, who scored the winning-goal against Nepal in 1985 SAF Cup final.

With the advent of ISL, India has become a popular desitnation for the foreign coaches – all the 10 teams have hired them.

Even I-League clubs have hired outstation managers, with only Mohun Bagan, Aizawl, Gokulam Kerala, Indian Arrows and Shillong Lajong have Indians as their head coaches. 

“Geographically, our country is very huge compare to the European nations. The foreigners possess good technical knowledge, but they’re very commercial. It’s extremely important to have an Indian coach at the helm since they’re aware of the ground realities,” said former India captain Victor Amalraj.

India started the Asian Cup on a positive note, but they lost their next two group matches against UAE (2-0) and Bahrain (1-0) to crash out of the continental competition.

“Let me be frank. When it comes to Indians, we don’t have personalities like Sukhwinder Singh, PK Banerjee or Syed Nayeemuddin. They’re vastly experienced and managed sides with aplomb. But, that’s not to say that Indians cannot manage the national side. It is important to remember that managing a national side is different than coaching a club,” added Gourmangi.

KU sources say that top bosses at the AIFF office would ever appoint any Indian for the hot seat.

“Foreign coaches do make a lot of difference. Their outlook is quite different than us. That’s not to say that we’re incapable of coaching the national side,” said former youth development coach Tanumoy Bose.