Newly-appointed Indian football coach Armando Colaco on Wednesday defended his decision to show the door to senior players, including star striker Bhaichung Bhutia, by asserting that a beginning has to be made by giving chance to young talent.
Colaco had raised quite a few eyebrows when he gave the boot to 14 senior players in the World Cup second round qualifiers squad but he reasoned that youngsters need to be groomed by giving international exposure if India has to do well in future.
"Youngsters need experience and for that there has to be a beginning. I have a lot of respect for the seniors and they will be call back if they perform well. But then again, I have to begin, and the federation will stand by me," Colaco told reporters in his maiden press conference after becoming national coach.
Asked about the inclusion of Mahesh Gawli and Sameer Naik -- both in their thirties -- among the probables, Colaco said, "Sameer is a senior player and a team-man. And as far Mahesh is concerned, he is one of the best best defenders. Though I feel sorry for Deepak Mondal (injured).
Colaco, whose first assignment with the national team would be against United Arab Emirates in the first round of World Cup qualifiers, warned against any expectation of instant success.
"I request all of you to be patient. The complexion of Indian football cannot be changed overnight. Given proper time and framework, I would say everything is possible," he said.
"The boys from the Indian Arrows will form the nucleus of the future national squad. I have analysed each and every player and decided on my squad," he added.
Often described as the most successful club coach in recent years, Colaco said he wants to apply the "possession football" he employs in his club side Dempo but clarified that he had not talked about playing like FC Barcelona.
"I will definitely try and install my way of football. Each coach has his own philosophy. We have seen Dempo playing in the AFC Cup," he said.
"But I was misrepresented and I did not mean that I want the Barcelona FC style of play. Barcelona belongs to another planet. It's impossible to play like Barcelona. No team can't ever emulate that style. I just want the national team to play like Dempo," said Colaco.
Besides the 42 players called for the three-week camp starting today at the Ambedkar Stadium here, the coach now wants the AIFF to include Baljit Sahni and Lalkamal Bhowmick.
"Baljit Sahni has scored quite a few goals in the I-League and Lalkamal has been playing very well," he said.
Asked about defender Anwar's exclusion, Colaco said Raju Gaekwad, Gouramangi Singh and Gawli are the best for the team.
Colaco, also Dempo coach and secretary, said he will seek leave from his club duties if the AIFF gives him extension from the current four-month contract.
"If they like my style and I do well, then I will ask my management to grant me leave for national duty," Colaco said.
He also said that he would request the AIFF to revamp local and national tournaments like Santosh Trophy as they give the younger players a "chance to express themselves".
The camp will continue till July 6 and the team will play two international friendlies -- against Maldives on July 10 at Male and against Qatar in Doha on July 17.
The Indian players will then head to Dubai for a short camp before taking on United Arab Emirates in the first leg of World Cup qualifiers second round on July 23 there.
The return leg between the two sides will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on July 28.