The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Sunday said it will launch its hunt for a new national coach in the next few days and would be aiming for a “dynamic personality” with considerable international experience instead of a high-profile name.
Stephen Constantine’s departure after the heartbreaking group stage exit at the AFC Asian Cup has left the top post vacant.
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said the candidate to replace him has to be well versed in man management, adding the federation will advertise for the coach’s post within the first week of February.
“The experience of having coached a national team is always important because what you get from that, you won’t get elsewhere,” Das told PTI.
“He has to be good in man management, has to have a vision for Indian football and he should be someone who is ready to take us to the next level. We are just not looking at some big names.”
India went into the Asian Cup rejecting rumours of a longstanding feud between Constantine and a few senior players, including the talismanic Sunil Chhetri, and the AIFF wants to avoid a similar situation in the future.
The apex body had, in the past, refused to acknowledge when asked if all was good between the coach and players.
Das stressed on the need for the head coach to have good relations with players, support staff, Indian football administrators and the clubs.
“Ideally, he should be a father figure working in tandem with the players, clubs and All India Football Federation. He has to tell us about his vision and be willing to accept the challenge of taking our football to the next level, which is exactly what we want,” Das said.
India’s promising start to the Asian Cup ended in a heartbreak when they conceded a 90th minute penalty for Bahrain to eke out a 1-0 win in their final group engagement in Sharjah.
The result was a far cry from the 4-1 demolition of Thailand in their tournament opener, prompting Constantine to step down.
Without reading much into the rumours around his dispute with players and his penchant for frequently experimenting with the personnel, Das felt Constantine’s tenure was fruitful for the Indian team.
“We have come a long way from the 2011 tournament (Asian Cup), though we had Australia and South Korea in our group then. But still we have impressed and I think we were unlucky against UAE and Bahrain (in the 2019 Asian Cup).
“With the talent we have in our U-16, U-20 national teams I am confident that Indian football can only go up from here,” Das said.
He said that at a time when Indian football is trying to climb up the ladder, a foreigner will be better suited for the top job.
“That is what we feel considering our goal. Also, people like Bibiano Fernandes, who is currently coach of Indian Arrows and Floyd Pinto, who is managing the U20 team, could also be part of the senior setup and moulded into complete coaches.
“So, it will be be great if the next head coach can also help in educating the coaches besides playing a role in the grassroots development programme. I must add that (Shanmugan) Venkatesh has done a great job with Stephen (as his assistant),” Das said.
Under the tutelage of Constantine, India did make progress, especially in FIFA world rankings, when they broke into the top-100 last year while enjoying an unbeaten run of 13 matches and qualifying for their fourth Asian Cup.