KOCHI: National Coach Wim Koevermans has brought in a number of new faces for India’s International Friendly against Palestine. In a freewheeling interview with www.the-aiff.com, Koevermans, who coached India to triumph in the Nehru Cup spoke at length about his ‘shadow team,’ his assessment of Palestine, his squad of 23 and much more. EXCERPTS:
How do you describe the significance of the International Friendly against Palestine?
Every game is important for the National Team. We want to gain as much experience as possible and improve ourselves at the same time. Unless you improve, you won’t step up the ladder in FIFA Rankings.
How much will this Friendly help in preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers?
It’s an opportunity to see players and gauge their present form. At the same time, there are a few players who don’t play that often (in the I-League) and I intend to have a close look at them too. Hence, the Friendly will help me make my choices. It’s an important test for some players, a very important one.
Obviously prior to the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers, we will have a Training Camp in Pune where we will spend over two weeks on the training pitch.
Have you had a look at Palestine?
I have watched videos of them and that has given me a good idea about their team. They are a very strong side. In December 2012, they had played the West Asia Cup where they beat Lebanon and went down narrowly to Oman and Kuwait by an identical 1-2 margin. Some of their players even play in tough competitive leagues outside Palestine.
You have travelled all over the country to spot players (from the I-League). Are you satisfied with your ‘shadow team?’
We just can’t break the dynamics of the team especially after the foundation which we laid in the Nehru Cup. We need to sustain that. But in the I-League we have watched a lot of players to cover some positions. I may bring in some new faces in the Pune Camp if needed.
There are some new faces whom you have summoned to the National squad. What message does it send to all?
Good performance will always get rewarded and along with it, consistency. As I said, we have invited quite a few players who don’t play that often. But it doesn’t end there. We need to remember that they have the quality in themselves which makes them eligible to play at the highest level.
Do you ever feel age can be a constraint for any player?
You need to find the right mix. I will never compromise on quality. If a young boy displays quality on the turf, he will get a chance for sure. And once you get it, you need to perform. The same theory implies for everyone.