The Dutch coach explained his decision to start with Mohanraj over Syed Rahim Nabi in the left back slot...
Wim Koevermans, the India coach, wasn’t diplomatic about the scheduling of games during the SAFF Championship. He mentioned that by playing every alternate day, the players do not have enough time for recovery which in turn affects the quality of football on offer.
“It is a crazy schedule to play every other day. I am happy we have no injuries. We are tired but it (injuries) can happen. The risk of injuries is increasing as players don’t feel rested, and I wrote to SAFF for having bigger gap, and I think it also affects quality of the game.”
“If during the semi-final, players are tired, what quality of football are we looking at? Maybe it’s a financial decision, but they must look after players,” he added
India relied on a last gasp Sunil Chhetri equalizer to grab a point against Bangladesh. However controversy ensued when the Bengal Tigers camp alleged that there was no foul on India’s captain, in the build-up to the goal and that the referee favoured Wim Koevermans’ side.
The Dutchman himself though did not wade into the controversy, but reiterated that his team should have won the game, as he felt his side dominated proceedings.
“I never make comments on the referee, as that it is out of our control. If I look at the game we have about ten clear chances. If we created a lot of chances and put two or three in the back of the net, we were in full control. But we didn’t score. But from one set piece they scored, that can happen.”
“I am a happy coach that we scored a late goal, every minute counts. We should have killed the game in the second half. I can only blame my own players not referees and they know they should have scored. I think it was a foul (on Chhetri) but I never argue with the referee,” he added.
While Sunil Chhetri got the equalizer, he wasn’t really having a great game until them. On the subject, Koevermans commented, “In the end, he delivered but I know he can do better. He had the chance to score against Pakistan too. He always gets chances. But I look at the positive side. We played better than against Pakistan, we were able to create chances and only need to improve on goals. I am happy with a point, but we could have had three.”
Questions were raised over Syed Rahim Nabi’s exclusion from the starting eleven once more. When quizzed on the same, Koevermans said, “Syed Rahim Nabi has not played for a while, and I have to look after him. He hasn’t had much game time recently; therefore I have to be careful with him.”
On being pointed out that N. Mohanraj has himself hardly played over the past two years, the Dutchman unconvincingly argued, “He has already played a game against Pakistan, so he has better match fitness. There is nothing else to it (about Mohanraj being played over Nabi).
Further defending the Mumbai Tigers’ player, the Indian head coach mentioned. “He made his debut against Pakistan, and in my view he had a good game. Defending is a team thing, and a mistake is never of one person alone.”
The coach though was optimistic of his side’s chances of progressing, and felt that at the end of the day, results matter.
“We have four points, which could have been six. We played a lot of games with good football, but nobody cares of good football if you don’t win. We played a lot of good games but nobody cares, as we didn’t qualify (in AFC Challenge qualifiers),” he concluded.
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