Nicolai Adam, the coach of the Indian national U17 football team, reserved praise for all his young Colts, bar one, after the defeat to Latvia in the Valentin Granatkin U17 Memorial Cup.
The Blue Tigers' development team lost 4-1 on the afternoon of Thursday, 12th January, in a group B encounter which ultimately saw them exit the competition being hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia.
When quizzed about the performance of his side, the former Azerbaijan U17 coach began, "First of all, I’d like to compliment Latvia. I played against them as a coach of Azerbaijan. They have become much better since. They began playing football, not only defending. Let me especially mark Latvian number 10 (Grinberg Janis). I think, this player could achieve a lot in Germany."
Surprisingly, the German seemed to single out one particular player for criticism after the defeat despite complimenting everyone else.
"As for our team, I can say I am happy with the entire team today with an exception of one player – number 11 (Aniket Jadhav). I had to substitute him. You could see our desire to play, especially in the second half. Participation in this tournament is a wonderful chance to gain experience for our players. I think this is the first time in my career when I meet such boys who have crazy devotion, desire to learn and a strong wish to win," continued the 40-year-old.
Asked if Yoga was a part of their extensive training curriculum, Adam stated in the affirmative, "In fact, yes, we do (practice Yoga). For example, my wife is a yoga instructor. Sometimes, she travels with us and holds yoga classes for the team."
He further explained, "But I’d like to note that we are also playing basketball. We do this not only to develop physically but also to diversify our training. You can go nuts if you only practice football non-stop 24\7. As a coach, I have to introduce something new."
The U17 coach then criticised what he perceived as illogical rules pertaining to the suspension of players ahead of the Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) U17 World Cup later this year.
"Boris is a very talented and important player for us. But I have bad news for him. He will not participate in the first match of the Youth World Cup. And this is caused by yellow cards that he received in the Asian Cup! This is not acceptable.
"I was asking the Technical Director of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) to change the outdated regulations that stop the development of football in the region. I am asking him to make a change urgently, today, not tomorrow or a day after. As long as these changes are not made, I have to follow the existing rules even though I deeply disagree with them," he opined, expressing his displeasure.
Finally, Adam seemingly expressed pleasure at his squad's ability to overcome testing personal conditions to play in Russia's Granatkin Cup, while also opining that India are 'behind in many aspects'.
"India is a very large country with rich history. But still, they’re behind in many aspects. And I am talking not only about football. Many people lack education. Many of my players come from poor families. But against all odds, India is playing in St. Petersburg now participating in a good tournament and is showing the play that they need," he concluded.