|By PADDY HIGGS
Australian coach Arthur Papas has intimated he will reject a long-term offer to remain with the All India Football Federation in order to keep his options open.
Papas moved to India in May 2012 to take up a position as an academy coach, later taking charge of the country's Under-23 team and development side Pailan Arrows in the I-League.
Former Football Federation Australia technical director Rob Baan - now in the same role with the AIFF - sounded out Papas, who had been identified as one of the country's promising young coaches.
Still just 32, Papas' work has led to an offer of a three-year contract extension from the AIFF. But with interest from clubs in Thailand and the United Arab Emirates - not to mention the constant pull of home - Papas is reluctant to commit himself past another year.
"… To be honest I'm quite comfortable with a one-year contract," Melbourne-born Papas told Goal! Weekly.
"They have already initiated contract talks. I've been offered a three-year extension with a really good pay increase, but I've never been in football for the money.
"I'll be happy to enter talks and to see what potential there is, but the more and more I think about it the more and more I find it hard to go beyond a year."
Before departing for India, Papas held roles at A-League clubs Melbourne Heart and the Newcastle Jets. And despite the interest from other parts of Asia, Papas has vowed to see out any deal he holds with the AIFF.
"Yes, I want to finish this one definitely because I didn’t finish my Newcastle one or my Melbourne Heart one and, although I had my reasons, I don't want to get a reputation at my age as someone who doesn't see out their contract," he said.
Papas also spoke glowingly about the future of football in India, having led the Arrows to seventh on the I-League table after 13 matches.
"People don't understand how big the I-League is and will become," he said.
"I mean, Carlos Hernandez is playing their and there are Nigerian players on AU$20,000 to AU$30,000 a month."