Finally, there is some American flavour in the I-League. Former Major League Soccer (MLS) coach Tim Hankinson has joined newly-promoted Salgaocar on a one-year deal to help the club survive in the top tier of Indian football.
“India has a lot of potential. In fact, I spoke to Sunil Gulati (president of the United States Soccer Federation) about India’s prospects and he seemed pretty excited,” Hankinson, 54, told HT from Goa.
Born and raised in New York, Hankinson took to coaching at 22 and has trained the likes of Carlos Valderrama and veteran American striker Landon Donovan. “Having been to Iceland, Guatemala and even Brazil, I felt that India could add to my learning curve. I was wary but I wanted to experience this.”
His knowledge of Indian football is internet-driven but Hankinson’s figured out enough to say he is excited about visiting Kolkata.
“I’m looking forward to playing before a full house at the Salt Lake stadium.”
Hankinson was a core member of the MLS Project 40, a development programme to spot players who could play for the national team or as professionals in the MLS.
Salgaocar, with whom the coach has hit the beach and the gym, would be a different deal. “My first target is to survive relegation.”
He felt that shorter camps are ideal for tournaments, when asked to comment on the AIFF initiative to arrange a camp for the Asian Cup in 2011 from next June.
“For qualifying tournaments like the World Cup, I can understand the concept of long duration camps, but not for meets like the Asian Cup,” he said.