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Zico open to working with Indian football body on grassroots development

football Updated: Oct 26, 2016 12:01 IST
Sean Sequeira
Sean Sequeira
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Brazilian specified that he would only be open to working with the Indian federation if a proper plan and vision was in place.(Prateek Choudhury/HT Photo)

Brazilian football legend Zico recently announced that he would be open to working with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) if he were to receive an offer from the national body.

The retired-player-turned-coach, who has been in charge of the national teams of Japan and Iraq in the past and currently manages Indian Super League (ISL) franchise FC Goa, said he would relish the opportunity to work on grassroots development in India because he enjoys working with young players.

Speaking with reporters after his team’s clash against Mumbai City FC -- which the Goan team won 1-0 for their first victory of ISL 2016 -- on Friday, Zico said one of his important principles as a coach was to pass on his footballing knowledge.

“For sure I would be open to sit down (with the All India Football Federation) to see what plans they have because I love to work with the youth. I think I would love to sit and talk about any offer they have for me,” he replied when asked if he was open to working with AIFF on grassroots development if he were offered a job.

But he also specified that he would only be open to the offer if a proper plan and vision was in place.

“I think we need to sit to see what is possible. I think any project or vision that we have (for the development of grassroots football in India), we need to see first what can be done,” he said.

As coach of FC Goa, Zico has led the team to the semi-finals of the inaugural season of the ISL and ended as runners-up last year.

The Brazilian said his work with young Indian players during his two and a half years coaching in the ISL has certainly proved his intent to improve the state of football in the country.

“I love to work with the youth. I love to teach. You can ask the players that I have coached over the last two years; Pronay (Halder), Bikram (Bikramjit Singh), (Thongkhosiem) Haokip and Mandar (Rao Desai). You can ask them how I have managed and helped them.

“For me age is not a problem. It doesn’t matter if they are 17-18 or 30-35 — I always look at them and put them on the ground based on their performance knowing that they will give their best.”

When asked about the current state of the Indian national team and his thoughts on their recent improvement to the 137th position in the Fifa rankings, he said, “I am very happy to hear it. And I think it is connected to the work we have been doing here in the ISL. There are good coaches and international players so Indian players have taken the opportunities that they have been given through the league to learn more. So it is on the right track and I think we need to see more of the same improvement.

“India is such a big country and there are so many people here. I think India should be in the very best position in the Fifa rankings,” he said in conclusion.

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