Barca is from another planet: India coach Armando Colaco
I want India to play the Dempo way
When national football team coach Armando Colaco wrote ‘It’s a new beginning’ after the July 10 international friendly match against Maldives on his drawing board in his hotel as his players were huddled around him. There was a mission behind it. The Goan wanted to instill in the believe that India can compete against the best in Asia and hold its head high.
There were a few takers for his bold statement outside the dressing room atmosphere. Only a handful of die-hard Colaco’s fans could take it as a gospel truth.
A week later in Qatar on Sunday July 17, the doubts were truly buried in the Qatari sands. A 2-1 win over the 2022 World Cup hosts was a moment out of the blue for the Bhangra boys and which came in the host’s backyard.
A 1-1 draw against lowly Maldives, ranked four places below to India was nothing to rave about, Colaco’s critics had argued.
Well in Qatar, ‘a new era in Indian football has just begun’, says Colaco. For the records , Colaco’s boys did what the country had not achieved for a long time. India had not beaten a top Asian side for many years. Qatar are ranked 94th in the world and ninth in Asia while India are at 147th in FIFA rankings.
“I see the self belief among the players that they can beat a top side in Asia. They were not concerned about the reputation of Qatar who are ranked much higher than us. The win was a great achievement as we have beaten Qatar in Qatar. We have shown that we can compete against the best in Asia," he said.
Well a win against Qatar, none including yours truly will; not have in his wildest dream will have imagined that. A win or a draw for the visitors was nowhere on the minds of the 200-odd Indian fans who were at the stadium cheering the Indian boys.
Strangely there were no Qatari fans at the stadium to cheer the home team.
The Indians who were present at the stadium savored the most of the magical moments on the football field.
If earlier, in the Asian Cup and in the recent Under-23 Olympic qualifiers the Indian fans had to depart the stadium on a sad note, Sunil Chettri and his team-mates ensured it was different story as they rewrote the script at Al Sadd stadium, an replica of the Old Trafford stadium of England.
Colaco was humble as ever. No arrogance, no airs.
Kudos to the boys, they deserve it more than me. A lot of work needs to be done before the 2014
FIFA world Cup qualifiers against UAE on Saturday.
Colaco’s phone keeps ringing and on Sunday night in Qatar it was no different. He was the most sought after man of Indian football.
Its 11.30pm in the night and it’s time to retire to bed but the phone calls keep coming, every time he has to cut his hold back his prayers. Yes, like all Goans, he does not retire to bed without saying his rosary.
In UAE on Saturday, Colaco and his boys will face familiar settings aka like Qatar, lot of Indian crowd support.
But one thing will be different, the match in Qatar was played under the cooling conditions to beat the oppressive Qatar heat of 45 degrees and 75 percent humidity, the Indian players will not have the same luxury in Abu Dhabi.
But Colaco has taken sufficient care to train the boys under the hot and humid conditions in Qatar and that should hold them in good stead in the desert heat and humidity.
“It’s time we believe we can do it and we can do it, that feeling has to sink in’ says Colaco.
The Dempo SC coach then dispels doubts about the lack of quality coaches in India , a fact which was constant bragged upon by former English coach Bob Houghton.
‘We do have quality coaches in India. But, we need more coach education training programmes, we need more academies and we need good infrastructure. AIFF should bring more foreign coaches to train our coaches.’
A new beginning has been made for Indian football but there is a long way to go. Colaco’s boys have won a few hearts in Qatar with their short passing game and ball possession, all of which was pleasing to the eye.
‘No we cannot play the Barca way. I have always said Barca are from a different planet. I want the Indian team to play the Dempo way,’ says the 58-year-old coach who hails from Curtorim village in South Goa.