'Koevermans leaving was sad'

BFC's Westwood in contention to become next India coach

After Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood expressed an interest in becoming the coach of the Indian football team, national team skipper Sunil Chhetri further increased speculation about the Englishman’s future. 

“That is a valid point (it helps if the next coach already knows the condition, the players and the set up), Chhetri said. “It does work a little better if the next coach knows what he is working with and someone who understands Indian football.

“But everything depends on the committee. It is not decided by Sunil Chhetri,” he laughed. 

While the 30-year-old didn’t namecheck Westwood, both of them do have a working relationship because of Bengaluru FC, where the former is the skipper.
 Westwood, who is currently acting as a pundit for Star in the Indian Super League, spoke about the vacant post during BFC’s pre-season tour of China. 

“I can work with Indian players and I have proved I can improve them,” the Manchester United Academy graduate had said.  

“If they (AIFF) think I’m good enough then obviously they would have to approach the club, but I don’t really know how that works. I’m just interested in doing a good job for whoever that would be,” he had elaborated. 

Chhetri also revealed the sadness that descended on the national team dressing room when Wim Koevermans announced that he was stepping down as the coach of the national team.

“It was a shock for me,” Chhetri said. “Everbody became sad as it took everyone by surprise.”  Koevermans had said that he would be stepping down as the coach of the team following the 2-3 loss against Palestine in a friendly earlier this month.

Chhetri also spoke about a football initiative launched by the Eric Benny Sports Management in association with FC Metz, a top-tier club in Ligue 1 in France. 

“The initiative will see kids from Bangalore, who are interested in football, take part in 4 vs 4 matches with the best kids being selected for a round-the-year ‘Elite Programmes.’” The ones who excel in the Elite Programmes will then be sent to the football academy at Metz, where they will be provided education as well as coaching. 

Chhetri revealed the reason behind him supporting EBSM. “If a kid who wants to get into football isn’t coached properly when they are at a young age, they won’t be able to learn anything as they become older.” EBSM, which has already sent nine kids abroad, had earlier conducted similar 4 vs 4 leagues in Agra, Delhi and Mussorie. The Bangalore leg of the league will start on November 9. For more details about the 4 vs 4 league, contact Sahil Srivastava on 9986558058.

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