Unfazed by the criticism of a member of the committee tasked to recommend a coach for the Indian U-17 team, All India Football Federation on Friday asked all the members of the panel to meet Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos who has emerged as the “number one choice” for the job.
AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said all the members of the advisory committee constituted to recommend Indian team’s head coach for the U-17 World Cup to be held in six cities from October 6-28 has been told to meet de Matos who is expected to be in India on February 28.
“All the advisory committee members have now been told to meet Luis Norton (when he is here in India),” Das said.
Indian football legends Baichung Bhutia and I M Vijayan, another former India international Abhishek Yadav (also Chief Operating Officer of the U-17 team) and AIFF Technical Director Savio Madiera. Other members are Das and Kishore Taid, Head of Operations and Strategy of the AIFF.
De Matos, a former Portugal international and ex-coach of Benfica reserve side as well of Guinea-Bissau national team, has been declared by the AIFF as its “number one choice” from among the shortlisted candidates and he is expected to meet Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas and AIFF President Praful Patel on February 28 to chalk out his contract details.
A member of the committee constituted by the AIFF to recommend the U-17 team coach has alleged that the federation has “bypassed” the panel in naming de Matos as the “number one choice”. The AIFF, however, defended its decision with Das saying that he (de Matos) was best suited for the job.
“We have never recommended any coach as number one choice. AIFF has bypassed the committee constituted by the president to select the coach of India U-17 team,” a member of the committee had said.
“There were more than 70 applications and we had pruned it down to eight and then to three-four candidates. We were to have a final meeting to select the coach. But this final meeting never happened and the AIFF on its own has now named one coach (de Matos) as their number one choice without consulting the committee. This is not right,” he added.
Defending the AIFF’s decision, Das said, “It’s an advisory committee, not a selection committee. We identified 7-8 candidates and we were asked to do skype interviews. The interviews were done by me, Kishore and Abhishek. After the interviews, we identified Luis Norton de Matos as the most suitable candidate to come for the interview in India with Secretary Sports and the AIFF President.”
Das said de Matos will come for an interview around February 28 but no selection of the coach has been made yet.
“The kind of profile this person (de Matos) has, he is the best choice for us. We talked to Portugal national coach Fernando Santos and asked him about de Matos. Santos said he (de Matos) is not a good coach but a very good coach. We asked the Portugal FA and they also recommended him (de Matos) very strongly. We went to FIFA and its technical side gave the recommendation.”