U-17 World Cup: Portugal coach Fernando Santos praises India aspirant Luis Norton
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U-17 World Cup: Portugal coach Fernando Santos praises India aspirant Luis Norton

Luis Norton has been shortlisted as the first choice to be India’s U-17 World Cup coach by All India Football Federation (AIFF) officials

football Updated: Feb 23, 2017 14:26 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
U-17 World Cup,Fernando Santos,Luis Norton
The India U-17 World Cup team is currently without a full-time coach after Nicolai Adam’s departure. (AIFF)

Unless something dramatic happens, former Portugal forward Luis Norton, 63, should succeed Nicolai Adam as coach for India’s under-17 football World Cup squad. The World Cup is scheduled to be held in India from October 6 to 28.

Norton has been shortlisted as the first choice by All India Football Federation (AIFF) officials following interviews conducted on Skype. “The final call will be taken by the AIFF president but Norton will also meet the government’s sports secretary,” said Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary over the phone from New Delhi on Wednesday.

Read | Mystery of India soccer: 8 months before U-17 World Cup coach Nicolai Adam axed

Norton, Das said, comes highly recommended by Portugal’s Euro 2016 winning coach Fernando Santos. “When we asked him, Santos said he (Norton) is not just a good coach but a very good coach,” said Das. Das said he and another official spoke to Santos over the phone on Tuesday. A former communication director at the Portuguese football federation too was spoken to for a background check on Norton, said Das.

The aspirant is also known to Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho and coached Portuguese Primeira Liga team CF Uniao last term. Back in the top tier after 20 years, the club though was relegated. Norton’s only other experience in the top division was with Vitoria Setubal in 2005. The only time he coached a senior national team was from 2010-12 when he was with Guinea-Bissau, ranked 80th in the latest Fifa list, in Africa.

Read | Nicolai Adam, controversial India under-17 World Cup coach, agrees to resign

The AIFF is now waiting for Norton to get a visa. The plan is to get him to New Delhi on February 28 and then to Mumbai to meet Patel. Should the interview end satisfactorily, Norton will take charge next month.

Should that not happen, the AIFF has another Portuguese and a former India youth team coach as second and third-choice candidates respectively, said a source in the federation.

What may not work in favour of the former India coach is that he was without a job for nearly three years, said an AIFF official requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media on this.

Read | Here’s why Delhi may miss out on FIFA U-17 World Cup matches

The shortlist was prepared after interviews conducted by Das, former India striker Abhishek Yadav, who is also a director with the federation and the Chief Operating Officer for the U-17 World Cup, and Kishore Taid, AIFF’s head of operations and strategy.

Following Adam’s resignation, the under-17 boys are now being trained by India head coach Stephen Constantine and his staff comprising sports scientist Danny Deigan, goalkeepers’ coach Rogerio Ramos, assistant-coach Shanmugam Venkatesh and AIFF technical director Savio Medeira.

First Published: Feb 23, 2017 12:38 IST