After India failed to score a single goal in the recent AFC Asian Cup in Doha and sunk in the group stage without picking a point, Kerala Blasters’ head coach Ivan Vukomanovic said the country just needs to look around and see what others are doing.
“When I arrived in France in 1997-1998, it was already there. Then other countries started with their process, forming a young new generation. If you want to compete in one big tournament like the Asian Cup hoping to make a result, first you have to create a young national team,” said Vukomanovic on the eve of Monday’s Indian Super League match against Punjab FC at the Nehru Stadium here.
“It means an under-17 or under-19 team which can go and compete in one big tournament. Then these boys have to grow up, and when they do, they will come to the senior level because they will be formed with quality, educated with quality, and will have the quality to perform and play against top teams in Asia.
“Twenty years ago, countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were in the same position where India currently is, but they understood the process, how to develop football, new players, new ways, how to create and transfer from the federation to clubs, in order to get those players so that they can compete at the highest level.”
“If there are no young national teams, the future will continue to be gloomy,” feels Vukomanovic.
“We can all speak about our clubs, but in the end, it’s about the national team, and how it can compete at the highest level. If there are no young national teams, there is no chance that the senior team will ever make anything,” said the Serb.
“If we keep saying, ‘We are going to select some players from the ISL, let’s go and compete’, it will never happen. [Because] the others understood the process, now, you see the difference between the Indian national team and countries like Uzbekistan and Syria.”
Regarding the ISL game, he said though Punjab FC is near the bottom (compared to the Blasters’ third spot in the table), the visitor could be a very tough opponent.
“It will be one of our most difficult games, I expect a hard game with many duels and a lot of running,” said Vukomanovic.
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