‘India are developing, good to see them prosper in football’: Oman coach Erwin Koeman
Erwin Koeman is 57 but he didn’t look it when he kept nailing those 45-yard shots at the Sports Authority of India’s manicured pitch in Paltan Bazar in Guwahati on Tuesday night. Not surprising for someone with a surname that weighty in Dutch football.
Koeman is senior by a day less than 18 months to brother Ronald, who is the Netherlands’ coach. The brothers are second generation internationals after father Martin, and all three have played for Dutch club Groningen. Erwin’s son Len is also a professional footballer, as is Ronald Koeman Junior.
One day after Erwin makes his Asian debut as Oman head coach against India, Ronald will be in charge of Netherlands’ World Cup qualifier against Germany.
“We haven’t met much over the past one year though we do keep in touch over the phone. Right now, we are busy with our World Cup qualifiers,” said Erwin, Oman’s head coach.
A midfielder with Holland, who, along with his brother, won the 1988 European championships and played in the 1990 World Cup, Erwin has coached Feyenoord and Hungary and was put in interim charge of Fenerbahce after being an assistant at PSV under Belgian great Eric Gerets. At Premiership clubs Southampton and Everton, Erwin was Ronald’s assistant.
Erwin’s lodgings in Muscat are by the beach but he hasn’t spent much time there. That’s because after signing a two-year deal in February with Oman, he joined the team in Germany in July where they spent three weeks. He lives alone in Muscat.
“It (Oman) is a safe place and the people are very friendly,” said Erwin speaking about his new assignment. “And, of course, we can help develop football in Oman.”
Erwin said he has watched the India-Oman games in 2015 “but it was four years ago and India are developing in football. It is good to see them prospering.”
This isn’t Erwin’s first visit to India because he played for the PSV Eindhoven team that visited for a series of friendlies in 1991-92 under coach Bobby Robson. In Kerala Blasters’ Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie, Erwin has another connection with India.
“Everyone connected with football knows each other in Holland,” said Schattorie before leaving for Dubai for pre-seasons on Tuesday. “I didn’t know him socially till he came to Oman because I also live there.”
So did Schattorie, who took NorthEast United to their first semi-finals of the Indian Super League last term and has coached East Bengal and United SC in Kolkata in an earlier stint, give Erwin any advice ahead of Thursday’s game?
“No, because this (India) team has changed. We speak about how Holland is doing instead and the fact that Ronald does not have a good striker,” said Schattorie.