National Coach Savio Medeira cannot live life without football. Keen to dismiss the myth that National Coaches are all about the Senior Team, Savio who’s acting as a spotter at the AIFF U-14 Football Fest in Kalyani, spoke at length to www.the-aiff.com about the new challenge, the forthcoming AFC Challenge Cup and other burning issues.EXCERPTS:
|National Coach Savio Medeira (L)
and Goalkeeping Coach Marcus
Football connoisseurs are quite amazed by your presence at an U-14 Football Fest. What’s your role?
I’m acting as a spotter in the ongoing U-14 Football Fest. The All India Football Federation stays keen in stitching it right at their Youth Development Programme. The intent appealed a lot to me and when I got the call, I took less than a minute to decide that I should be here. It’s nice to see good talent who would be flag bearers of Indian Football in the future.
The Preparatory Camp for the AFC Challenge would be kicking-off in Dubai. Are you happy with Dubai as a venue?
Absolutely! The facilities in Dubai facilitate good football. We have been getting good exposure in recent years and prior to such a vital Tournament, such a Tour would help us immensely. We would be playing one International Friendly against Oman and possibly another against some other country.
How much does Jeje Lalpeklua’s injury affect the balance of the team?
It has upset our plans no doubt. Jeje is a player who can hold onto the ball and shield it allowing the midfielders to rush in. You cannot have a readymade replacement for him. He is someone who can make that difference in a crunch match. But at the same time, it stays a chance for others to grab the opportunity.
What went into your mind when you dropped Climax Lawrence?
I didn’t drop him; rather I rested him. In such a Tournament such as the AFC Challenge Cup, you ought to play every alternate day. The recovery time stays minimal. He has been playing regularly in the I-League and for the last decade, his body has taken a toll. Hence, he didn’t figure in my plans for the AFC Challenge Cup. I did speak to him prior to my decision.
I’ve heard Climax has announced his retirement. But to me retirement is just a word. There have been so many players who have come out of retirement to play again. He would be playing Club Football in any case. If he stays physically and mentally tough, he can always play for the Nation.
India are the Defending Champions of the AFC Challenge Cup. What can the fans expect in Kathmandu this time?
Such Tournaments are very tricky. A good start can always work wonders. We need to stay in the right frame of mind and stay free of injuries. This is a tough bunch. I keep my fingers crossed.