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The coach of the Indian national team spoke about a plethora of issues from the their target in the Asian Games to the ISL...

EXCLUSIVE
BY ATANU MITRA

Wim Koevermans, the coach of the India national football team, told that his side will aim for the gold medal at the Asian Games scheduled to be held in September this year in Incheon, South Korea.

“As I have said, if we enter a tournament, we try to win it. That’s our aim. We have to see how far we get. I said to the boys, 'We will not say that we try to get in to the quarters or something. No. We will try to win it.' That’s what we are going to work on,” he told Goal.

He also remarked that the rule of including at least one Under-23 player in the starting line-up for all I-League teams has helped the youngsters.

“The more the boys play in the highest competition in India, the better for them. The majority of the players here at the camp played many games in the league and that’s good,” he added.

The Dutch tactician also told that it has been easy to spot the best 30 under-23 players from the country, despite the paltry number of matches telecasted.

“It’s not so hard, I talk to the coaches. We had scheduled a camp for the Under-22 here that we had to cancel. So a lot of boys we have seen and we have seen them performing many times. We knew the U-23 players and it was not so difficult,” he told.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is the only footballer who is yet to report to Bangalore as the coach has prioritized his trial at the Norwegian club Stabaek FC to his participation in the camp.

“I hope he gets a chance to earn a contract somewhere outside of India. Hopefully it is beneficial for him, that’s what I am always thinking of when they travel - is it a good choice, is it a good competition, do they get a chance to play? Hopefully it will work out well,” he wished the former East Bengal custodian.




However Koevermans also conceded that it’s becoming difficult for him to keep tab of how well players like Subrata Paul, who plays for FC Vestsjaelland and Sandhu are doing in their foreign stints.

“Well, that’s very difficult. I can’t go there and watch the matches every week. We can find out whether they played via a phone call. It’s a bit more difficult. It is different between Subrata and Gurpreet, since Subrata is much more experienced,” he told.

Koevermans also informed that he will scout for talent in the Indian Super League (ISL) and is eager to see how the new chapter in Indian football unfolds.

“The thing is (that) I am not sure how it will work out for everybody. It’s new to everybody. So, we have to have an open mind and see what happens. Boys who are playing in that league, it’s an opportunity to see them again. But then again, we have to see how that works out,” he opined.

Among the 30 players called in the preparatory camp for the Asian Games, Kamaljit Singh and Shankar Sampingiraj have not played a single minute in the last edition of the I-League.

“These are guys from the Under-19 National team and Shankar has also been part of Under-22 side. You always like to see more than the I-League players, but then you can’t have everybody. Kamaljit is a very young talented goalkeeper and I wanted to see him here,” he told.

However, the member of Netherlands’ Euro winning squad in 1988 sounded worried when asked about the fitness regime of the players who wouldn’t be a part of the Indian Super League (ISL).

“That’s not something under my control. That is one of the things we have to see how clubs cope with. The I-League starts even after the Federation Cup in December. So, what are the clubs going to do now? From the end of the I-League season till December?

“That are things that the clubs have to deal with. That’s not my responsibility. I spoke to the coaches when we went for the Pro-license course. I asked them, how they are going to deal with that. This is something new for football in India. There’s half a year of no football for the players who are not in the ISL,” he mentioned.

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