Wim Koevermans: It is not easy as it seems to bring in younger players to the national squad

The Indian national team coach is surprised by the tendency among the Indians to kick the ball high up in the air and losing possession…

Following the Asian Cup, Bob Houghton decided to choose a very young squad for the Challenge Cup qualifiers which did surprise his critics. Thereafter following his unceremonious departure, Armando Colaco had a good mix of youngsters and the seniors for the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers before Savio Madeira opted to stick with the tried and tested lot from the past for the SAFF Championships and Challenge Cup.

Wim Koevermans has preferred to follow the route of roping in youngsters into the national squad as he hopes to cast a group of players who can personify his philosophy of how the game is to be played. So are we in for a near-complete overhaul of the squad, something which was seen with the Germany national side at the 2010 World Cup under Joachim Low?

“The Under-22 tournament (AFC U-22 Championship Qualifiers) in Oman gave me a great opportunity to witness the future Indian National Team Players. The boys displayed good performances during the Championship and I have included a few of them for the National Team Camp,” Koevermans explained.

“Bringing young players into the National Team is not as easy as it seems because it’s a different level after all. But if the players show that they can compete with the best, it might be a good idea to include them,” he reasoned.

Let's cut down on the time spent before releasing a pass - Low

In a manner similar to how Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low changed the brand of football played by the Die Mannschaft helping complete their transition from the boring defensive tactics to a fluid attacking system, Koevermans is treading along the same path albeit in a country where it is difficult to find many teams playing along the ground in the I-League, with the exception of Armando Colaco’s Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers under the tutelage of Karim Bencherifa back in the 2007-08 season.

One of the major problems he would face is the obsession to kick the ball high up for the strikers, who are usually short in height, to do all the running and win the ball. While this is being branded the long ball strategy, in reality it’s just aimless ‘kick and run’ tactic. Why? Because in the long ball strategy the idea is to send the ball forward in the direction of the striker after looking at the latter’s movement or in space, however in India the defenders and midfielders kick it without keeping the just explained basic premise in mind which leaves the strikers exhausted much before the 90 minute mark.

“The tournament in Oman for the U22’s and the videos of the National Team which I have seen so far have highlighted the phases of the match where we keep the ball well and that shows we have the ability to do it.

“Strangely enough, all of a sudden we choose to kick the ball forward high up in the air resulting in losing possession of the ball and it results in us defending again. That’s the area the players need to improve on and I know we can,” the Dutchman isn’t buoyed by the challenge that lies ahead.

And to aid him in this process is none other than Savio Madeira who has now been the national team for over four years, first as an assistant and thereafter the senior coach. Koevermans admits that he took advice of his predecessor in selecting the national squad for the Nehru Cup highlighting that the former Euro 88 winner isn’t shy of seeking help instead of demonstrating the high-handed attitude which one does associate with several foreign coaches.

“I have to rely on Savio for picking the squad and I have no problem with that. He is very well informed about the players and knows their qualities. I will work with the same supporting staff as before when we go into the training camp for the Nehru Cup,” said Koevermans.

Are you, the Indian football fan, ready for the transition in India’s playing style?

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