The India U-19 football team scored three goals in five games in the Granatkin Memorial tournament in Russia once again highlighting that scoring is not India’s forte. India U-19 head coach FLOYD PINTO dispels this notion in conversation with Sports Editor AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Q: India still needs foreign players to score. As coach of the India U-19 team, how do you intend to overcome this problem?
Scoring is an art and everyone is not cut to be a scorer. We have been able to tap players capable of scoring but most importantly the boys are now capable of creating scoring opportunities. There were many chances created and this is a good shift for football in India.
Q: Art is inherent. How do you intend to develop scoring ability in our players?
Scoring can be nurtured; scoring can be enhanced in a player. The emphasis today is to spot players who are coachable. To find boys who can be taught and are willing to learn. Today, we first see whether a player is coachable or not and then put him through a routine. The flair to score will come naturally after lot of practice.
Q: What is the primary objective achieved by your developmental team over this span of a year?
The boys have started creating chances to score. They may have not translated those chances into goals but that they are creating so many chances against teams from other countries is one of the biggest positives of this tournament. Once they get the confidence, scoring will flow naturally.
Q: India always plays defensively with foreign
opposition. There was a change in the style of play adopted by your Indian
Arrows team, where the boys tried to be on top by trying to dictate play. Is
there a shift in policy or
The approach is to possess and press and not wait for the opposition to give us the ball. Yes, we did the same in the I-League and are continuing now because it proved successful in the league. The idea is to create opportunities that help us dictate terms. Possession football is one aspect and gaining possession to create is another. We are emphasising on the latter.
Q: Don’t you find the intensity of the game higher in foreign teams?
This is another aspect that we look in players during selection; their ability to go through intensive training; their ability to cope playing highly intensive matches. We look for players who can meet with the physical demands of the game. The player should not only be able to play an intensive game but also needs to be comfortable whilst playing.
Q: How successful have you been in getting such players?
There are players capable of reacting and reaching this level of intensity. It will take some time but I am encouraged with the progress.
Q: Your team consists of many players who represent India during the FIFA U-17 World Cup and boys of the U-14 set up who were parts of Bibiano’s team. Are there any new additions and any from Goa?
There are a few new faces that have been added to the current team but none are from Goa. As I said, we select players in whom we see talent and who we think are coachable. We know the demands of football at the international level and therefore need boys who show they can mould to reach those demands.
Q: Will Indian Arrows participate in the I-League this season?
I do not know what the plans about the I-League are. But, I am preparing the boys for the SAFF Cup in Nepal in September and the AFC U-19 in Saudi Arabia in November.