Having seen Armando Colaco lead East Bengal to an unlikely second place in the I-League last season, the Red and Golds’ fans were no doubt euphoric when the veteran Goan coach ended weeks of flip-flops and speculations by signing a new contract to stay at the club for the foreseeable future.
However, the ex-Dempo coach Colaco, has warned his club’s fans to temper their expectations as he bids to bring success to the club in the long haul. “When I had arrived here for the first time to take charge of the team in the middle of the season (in November last year), everybody was saying: `Go back Colaco and bring back (Trevor) Morgan'. I believe people have now forgotten that chapter. I want to change this club, but for that to happen, we need to be patient. I want East Bengal to be Dempo of my time, but it won't happen in a day ,” explained Colaco to The Times of India.
Colaco has already baulked at the time-frame to initiate East Bengal’s pre-season training, slated to begin on the 18th of June, in thrall of the Indian Football Association’s (IFA) Football Shield.
“It will be tough for the players. Never in my coaching career I have had a pre-season so early. It will be raining and the grounds will not be in good condition. Also chances will be high that the players will get injured,” laboured Colaco, clearly discontent with the timing of the pre-season, to The Telegraph.
Colaco expressed his desire to kindle the younger spirits from the club to have a good cup run by stressing, “I've some pre-season plans. But with the Shield set to start on July 15, I'll have very little time to prepare the team. I'm planning to play the Shield with youngsters. If you don't promote young players when will they get a chance to play?
“It will be a big chance for them. You have to give confidence to the youngsters. We have the AFC Cup also this season. So the senior players will need rest. I cannot afford to play them in IFA Shield at the beginning of the season and find them tired at the business end,” added the five time National League winner.
Another issue that didn’t escape Colaco’s wagging finger was the schedule for the much hyped and promoted Indian Super League (ISL), a brainchild of IMG-Reliance, scheduled to kickoff in September.
“I don't know how the ISL is going to change Indian football, but its timing is wrong. Has anybody thought what will happen if a club decides to release key players for the tournament and some of them get injured? Besides, because of the new tournament, the span of I-League will also be shorter and this means we may be forced to play 2-3 matches in a week. The window is impractical,” blasted Colaco.
Opining his views on the latest All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) dictum of ensuring every I-League team had to sign at least one ‘Marquee’ player, Colaco let it know that wasn’t against such a policy but was more worried about the brand image of Indian football which may not attract the right quality of foreign players. “As long as we get good foreigners, it’s fine. But given our poor rankings do you think any big name will be interested in playing in India? So I have to wait and see,” stressed the Goan.
On his own team’s plans to seek the services of Denzil Theobald, a former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder and a World Cupper, Colaco elucidated, “He has the experience of playing in India when I was Dempo. He linked up well with Ranti Martins. So he could be the ideal marquee player.”
The newly re-instated coach of the Red and Gold’s was far warmer when he expressed his opinion on AIFF’s mandate to I-League clubs, detailing plans to enlist only ‘A’ license coaches as Technical directors. “It’s a good move. But coaching is not an easy job. I would like to see coaches being educated.”
He wasn’t too critical of Seimenlen Doungel, an academy product who left the club seeking greater opportunities, even though he played 17 matches for the Kolkata titans (12 off the bench) and scoring 4 goals in the process. “You have to make sacrifices. I wish him all the best,” explained Colaco.
Finally, concluding the interview, Colaco once again stressed the need for patience from his supporters. “Please have patience. This team will deliver. One trophy doesn’t make a coach great or a team world-class.”