SAFF rivals have caught up to India: Savio Medeira

Savio Medeira was the chief coach of the Indian team when the country last won the SAFF football championship four years ago. Savio assisted Wim Kovermans when India went down to Afghanistan in the final two years and he feels that as host India has its task cut out to win the championship.

Regarding ISL, Medeira (second left) expressed his reservations about the short duration of the tournament and added that he was in favour of a staggered league.

Savio Medeira was the chief coach of the Indian team when the country last won the SAFF football championship four years ago. Savio assisted Wim Kovermans when India went down to Afghanistan in the final two years and he feels that as host India has its task cut out to win the championship.

“We used to be the dominant nation in SAF football tournament till a few years ago. But other nations have started dominating us. It is not that our standard has come down but the truth is that other countries have improved a lot especially Afghanistan. Playing at home is added pressure and it will be a tough task for our boys to win the title,” said Savio who was in Thiruvananthapuram as course instructor for AFC ‘C’ license programme.



You see the ISL has kept some of the players pre-occupied and a few of them would be joining the squad just before the start of the tournament. I agree they will be in competitive trim but unlike foreign players Indian players need time to adjust to the new formations and strategies. I don’t think the coach will get enough time to spend with those who arrive late in the camp.


The preparation or lack of it will have a bearing on the performance of the national team, says Savio Mederia who has the rare distinction of winning the SAFF championship as player and coach. “You see the ISL has kept some of the players pre-occupied and a few of them would be joining the squad just before the start of the tournament. I agree they will be in competitive trim but unlike foreign players Indian players need time to adjust to the new formations and strategies. I don’t think the coach will get enough time to spend with those who arrive late in the camp.

“Other countries have already started their preparations in earnest. Our main rival Afghanistan are training in Qatar for the last one month and Sri Lanka are already here. In that context, I must admit the Indian team will be rusty when the tournament begins and there will be pressure if things don’t fall in place early on,” said Savio.

The 50-year-old former coach, who spent his entire playing career with Salgoacar, said he was enjoying his new role as coaching instructor. “The grass roots development can be successful only if we have good coaches to teach our youngsters techniques and skills. Coaches’ education is important and AIFF has realised this. The State associations should also take cue and start appointing good coaches for their grass root development programme,” he said.

“As an instructor my job is to ensure the coaches are equipped to deal with various aspects of coaching such as identifying, nurturing talent, teaching basic techniques like first touch, dribbling etc and more importantly football intelligence. I feel it is an area where we lag behind foreigners. A good coach at grassroots level can imbibe all these qualities in a youngster,” added Medeira.

Regarding ISL, Medeira expressed his reservations about the short duration of the tournament and added that he was in favour of a staggered league. “The short duration of the league puts tremendous stress on our players. This will lead to burn outs and injuries. Ideally, it should be played over a longer duration say about six months where players have enough time to recoup. I expect both I-League and ISL to merge sooner or later,” he said.

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