We will be competitive: Colm Toal

Nilanjan Datta

TEHRAN: India’s U-19 team stay focused on the AFC U-19 Qualifiers in Tehran at the moment. Clubbed in a strong group, Head Coach Colm Toal Joseph Toal assures, his boys will be competitive and stay positive against higher-ranked opponents. In a freewheeling chat with www.the-aiff.com, Toal spoke at length about the present batch, the preparations and about how results shouldn’t be the benchmark to judge Youth Development Programmes (YDP). EXCERPTS:

Head Coach Colm Toal

Expectations are running high back home after the U-16 squad qualified for the AFC Final Phase.

It’s nice to get results but we need to remember the Youth Development Programme (YDP) is not all about results. Obviously, the fact that we qualified in 2007 and again in 2011 gives us that extra fillip and tell us that we are marching forward. More than results the YDP is all about producing Players who can go onto playing in the I-League and represent the Senior National Team. That we have been doing that consistently is satisfying indeed.
The more the boys win, the more confident they become. We need to maintain the right balance.
How has the preparation been for the AFC U-19 Qualifiers?
We have been training in Goa where everything is in place. Besides, the Camp in Shanghai was a very significant one for us. We made a lot of progress from where we performed reasonably well against some very tough teams in the Weifang Cup. Prior to landing in Tehran, we were based in Doha for around 12 days. I’d say it came at the right time for us. The facilities were excellent and the practice matches further helped. The AIFF has done everything a Federation can do to help us train in the right manner.

U-19 boys at the breakfast table

How good is this bunch of U-19 boys?
They are as good as any other batch. But I don’t believe in comparing teams. Batches which produce results don’t always come out as better players in the long run. I want them to go and make a mark in the I-League for the Pailan Arrows after the U-19 Qualifiers end. That will define them for sure.
India have been clubbed in a tough Group along with hosts Iran and Uzbekistan. How do you rate our chances?
Our teams work hard and we need to be competitive. I can’t guarantee we will win but we will play to win. You need to give yourself a chance against the best and stay positive. It’s not for nothing that Iran and Uzbekistan are way ahead of us in the Rankings. Rankings don’t only reflect the performance of the Senior Teams – rather, it filters down to the age-groups. And if we look there, you will see they have been doing a better job than us for a longer period of time.
Since you took over the YDP, the face of Indian football is slowly but surely changing. What is the secret of Colm Toal’s approach/success?
I have a strong objection to what you say. It’s not about an individual; it’s about team work. If Indian football is to move ahead, it’s essential the Indian Coaches do well in the long term. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by competent individuals who I believe, will change Indian football in the long run. YDP is not just about developing players — it’s important the coaches also get the recognition.


U-19 Team India – practice session

AFC U-19 Qualifiers – FIXTURES

Group C: Uzbekistan, Iran Pakistan, India, Turkmenistan (Takhti Stadium)
Oct 31: Pakistan vs Uzbekistan – 3.30pm
Oct 31: India vs Turkmenistan – 6.30pm – IST: 8.30pm
Nov 2: Pakistan vs Turkmenistan – 2pm
Nov 2: Iran vs India – 6.30pm – IST: 8.30pm
Nov 4: India vs Uzbekistan – 3.30pm – IST: 5.30pm
Nov 4: Turkmenistan vs Iran – 6.30pm
Nov 6: Turkmenistan vs Uzbekistan – 3.30pm
Nov 6: Iran vs Pakistan – 6.30pm
Nov 8: Pakistan vs India – 3.30pm – IST: 5.30pm
Nov 8: Uzbekistan vs Iran – 6.30pm