Indian football team’s performance in Asian Games was satisfactory: AIFF’s technical committee

New Delhi, Nov 1 (PTI) The Indian men football team’s performance in the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou was on Wednesday described as “satisfactory under the circumstances” by the national federation’s (AIFF) technical committee. A rag-tag Indian team with just Sunil Chhetri and Sandesh Jhingan as notable names was assembled in the eleventh hour after the Indian Super League clubs refused to release their players named in the original squad.

The team reached Hangzhou just hours before the first group match and the strategy sessions were held in flight and on transit. But the side still reached the knock-out round only to lose to Saudi Arabia in the round of 16.

“The technical committee felt the performance of the men’s team was satisfactory considering the circumstances where the team reached just before the tournament and many players in the original squad were not there,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran told PTI.

“Moreover, the team did better (in Hangzhou) than the last edition (2014) where India crashed out in the group stage,” he added.

The technical committee meeting, held virtually, was chaired by former India captain IM Vijayan and attended by Prabhakaran, technical director Syed Sabir Pasha, and members Pinky Bompal Magar, Harjinder Singh, Arun Malhotra, Climax Lawrence and Eugeneson Lyngdoh.

Prabhakaran said the technical committee did not discuss anything specific relating to India head coach Igor Stimac, whose contract was extended by two years after the Asian Games campaign.

Earlier, Stimac was asked to take the national team to the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian Cup in January next year or face the axe.

The technical committee members also recommended that the matter of players being released by clubs for tournaments like the Asian Games be discussed at the next Executive Committee meeting, the AIFF said in a release.

The Vijayan-led committee also recommended that the national women’s team be given longer preparation time and friendly matches to prepare for such big events like the Asian Games.

“Members of the (technical) committee agreed that the senior women’s national team performed admirably against tough opponents like Thailand and the Chinese Taipei in the Asian Games,” the release said.

In another significant development, the technical committee recommended former defender and current India assistant coach Mahesh Gawli to take charge of developing players from under-20 onwards.

Gawli, who was named India U-23 coach at the same time of Stimac’s contract extension, was also recommended by the technical committee to lead the project for the development of other junior teams, in order to streamline the progression of the players.

“The idea is to give Gawli the responsibility of developing players from 20 years of age onwards. You cannot build U-23 team if you don’t know the players from 20 years of age onwards. You will need two years to reach to U-23 level,” Prabhakaran said.

The AIFF, for the first time in three years, has organised the sub-junior and junior women’s national football championships.

While the technical committee felt that India was lagging behind in junior football at the domestic level, the commencement of such national championships, along with the junior elite leagues and Khelo India, will help bridge that gap.

The Committee also suggested the federation to create a database for the U-19 players in order to track and monitor their progress.

Source: PTI News


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