India U-17 World Cup team will be tough to beat, says coach Nicolai Adam
India’s squad for next year’s under-17 World Cup to be played at home has developed well and will be tough to beat, says its German coach Nicolai Adam.football Updated: Sep 13, 2016 19:51 IST
The head coach of India’s U-17 World Cup team Nicolai Adam was in New Delhi for the launch of the AIFF-SAI overseas scouting portal on Tuesday. Ahead of the tournament to be staged in India next year, the hosts will feature in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 tournament starting in Goa on September 15. India, who face United Arab Emirates in the opener, are in a tough pool that includes Iran and Saudi Arabia.
In a free-flowing interview on the sidelines of the event, the German coach told HT how it is getting harder for new talent to break into his team, his expectations from the two upcoming tournaments and how time has come to close down the reserve (India B) team for the U-17 World Cup side.
Q. Last year, you pledged to prepare an India team that will be hard to beat, a team India can be proud of. Is this team hard to beat? Are they there yet?
A. I think they are there. We will be difficult to beat. The team is in good shape. The training camp in Norway and Germany went very well and there were a couple of good results. The only problem we face now, and I’m not making an excuse, is that we have injuries. Reamsochung Aimol, a potential starter, has fractured his leg and will be out for a couple of months. Ninthoi has an inflamed appendix and might undergo surgery. Plus we are missing four players from the World Cup U-17 squad, who cannot play in the AFC championship because of the second cutoff (age). So, we are without six players who went to Norway and Germany, but I stay with my opinion, it will be difficult to beat us.
Q. You are said to be constantly looking for left-footed players to get the balance in the team. Are you still searching?
A. I am not only looking for left-footed players, we are always looking out for players. This overseas scouting (trials were held in Dubai in June to tap young talent) will be of great help too. The door is always open, but it is getting more and more difficult to break into this team because the boys have really developed. We had a couple of boys from the scouting project (from Dubai) to train with us in Germany and they were not good enough, to be honest with you. But it doesn’t matter; they tried hard, but they saw us and said ‘wow, it was too fast for us’. Even technically and tactically they were not there. So, you can really see the progress of this team.
Q. We also have a B team, and a few of them are said to have progressed to the A team. What is the plan for them?
A. To be honest not too many have progressed. I and my assistant, we went over a year ago in April 2015 and we had a good look at the academy (in Goa). Then we went out on our own scouting trip and found a few players. The problem with the B team is that they don’t have a budget. They had a little exposure trip to Russia but that was only for five days and one match. That is not enough. As long as there is no budget and they only stay in the academy, do their training and play local teams, you cannot expect much development from them. From the B team, there is only one player who I like, and I’ll nominate him for the BRICS Cup (after the AFC event); after that basically that might be it for the B Team. The plan is to close the academy and release those players to clubs.
Q. What are your expectations from the team? We are playing two back-to-back tournaments, the AFC Championships and the BRICS tournament.
A. In the best case scenario we will have 11 international matches, from September 15 to October 15. This has never happened before in world football. It is almost too much, but on the other side, it is great exposure for my team. In the BRICS Cup, I finally can use all my players as there is no cap on substitutions, so we’re looking forward. The team also want to confirm the good results they delivered in Germany and Norway. They may feel pressure as this will be real competition against other national teams, the best in Asia. So, we are looking forward to that. Let’s hope for the best.