NEW DELHI: ‘We need to go on top,” uttered Wim Koevermans. Can you tell me the way to the top? From the top you get a better view. You can look down and study everyone,” he added, and took the stairs. Minutes later, he was there in his seat to study Maldives (against Nepal) from the Upper Tier of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
“Wim Koevermans comes from the Dutch School of thought. So it’s understandable, he will try to implement the same in Indian football,” maintained Maldives Coach Istvan Urbanyi. “It’s impossible to comment on India at the moment. Rain played a major role in India’s first match against Syria. So I just can’t draw any comparison between this Indian side and former ones,” he continued. “It’s too early to do that.”
“Past is past. The match against Sryia is past at the moment,” stressed Koevermans in the Team Meeting. “If you think about Syria, you will stumble. Maldives boast of some good players who can make a difference,” was Koevermans’ study of Maldives.
For Maldives, Captain Ali Ashfaq was brilliant against Nepal. His runs were incisive and more often than not, he had the entire Nepal defence chasing. It was at the age of 18 that he was offered a first team contract with Portuguese giants Benfica which he refused.
“Most of my players observed Ramadan and hence, I’m worried a bit about their fitness levels. But at the same time, you need to remember both my debutants scored against Nepal. Abdullah Asadullah is just 22 (he was declared the Man-of-the-Match against Nepal) and Easa Ismail is a super talent,” Urbanyi maintained.
Koevermans watched from the top. The white papers were scribbled; his pen stayed busy.
“India are trying to adapt to a different style of play. It was visible before the rain forced a brief halt in their first match against Syria,” Urbanyi went on. “That we had many scoring chances against Nepal adds to our confidence. But at the same time, when you get so many of them, you ought to kill the match early,” he dissects his own team.
You approach anyone in the Indian Team and they stay cautious. Syed Rahim Nabi echoes: “Maldives is a different match.” You take two steps and approach Gourmangi Singh, and he quips: “We have had a good start. We need to sustain the momentum.”
Koevermans wasn’t the sole one who was there on the Upper Tier; Team India’s Video Analyst was also there. In fact, this is the first time any Indian Team boasts of a Video Analyst.
“When you look at the team videos, you get to watch the broader angle and improve on the positioning of the players. It’s pertinent,” Koevermans educates. “The players need to see and judge for themselves.”
You remember Rahim Nabi’s words. “I have been playing for the National Team since 2004 but Koevermans has taught me a lot as far as positioning on the field is concerned.”
The kick-off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is at 7pm.
By Nilanjan Dutta