FIFA U-17 World Cup: AIFF panel member says they 'never recommended' any coach as number one choice

New Delhi: The process of selection of the Indian team head coach for the upcoming U-17 football World Cup has not gone down well with a few members of the committee tasked to make the recommendation as they felt "bypassed" by the national federation.

The All India Football Federation has named Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos as its "number one choice" to succeed Nicolai Adam who was sacked earlier this month following complaints of physical and verbal abuse by the players.

The AIFF logo. Twitter/@IndianFootball

The AIFF logo. Twitter/@IndianFootball

De Matos is set to come to India either on 27 or 28 February to meet AIFF President Praful Patel and Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas to chalk out his contract details.

But a member of the special committee constituted by the AIFF to recommend the coach has alleged that the national federation has bypassed the panel in naming de Matos as the "number one choice".

"We have never recommended any coach as number one choice. AIFF has bypassed the special committee constituted by the president to select the coach of India U-17 team," a member of the special committee told PTI on Thursday.

"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.

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 were among the members of the special committee to shortlist the coach.

"We know the technical matters and who can be the best coach for the U-17 side but we have been bypassed by non-technical people in AIFF. The same thing happened at the time of Nicolai Adam's appointment. The AIFF officials announced his (Nicolai's) name on their own without advice from the committee constituted to select the coach. After two years what happened (to Nicolai) is for all to see," he said.

"After the Nicolai controversy we need a person who is not aggressive in nature, who knows Indian culture so as to be able to gel with the young boys. The issue with Nicolai was mainly due to cultural difference with him and the boys. The committee was to look into all these kind of issues regarding these three-four shortlisted candidates in the final meeting.

Another member also confirmed that the committee members have been told by the AIFF that there would be a final meeting to select the candidate (out of the final three or four) best suited for the job.

"At the last meeting, we were told that we will have a final meeting and in that we will discuss in detail about these three final shortlisted candidates. But the meeting has not been held till now," he said.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das had said on Wednesday that de Matos was the number one choice of the AIFF and he will come to India and meet the Sports Secretary and AIFF President next week.

"De Matos is the number one choice. He will come to India and meet Sports Secretary and AIFF President and then we will take a decision. The final decision on the coach's appointment will be taken by Mr Praful Patel (AIFF President)," he had said.

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Updated Date: Feb 23, 2017 20:01:04 IST

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