Kolkata: After Nicolai Adam was relived of his duties as the coach of the Indian U-17 side months before the country hosts the FIFA World Cup, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) General Secretary Kushal Das had stated that the team should have a new manager by March. And one has to say that the AIFF has been true to its word when it handed over the charge of the U-17 side to Portuguese, Luis Norton De Matos, right at the beginning of the third month of 2017.
A former Portuguese forward who has made five international appearances for Portugal, Matos has already managed the reserve side of the famous Portuguese club Benfica and would now coach the Indian U-17 team for the marquee FIFA event scheduled to be held in October this year. De Matos had earlier been interviewed by the Advisory Committee of the AIFF which has former Indian captains IM Vijayan and Bhaichung Bhutia as its members. He also sat for discussions with Injeti Srinivas, the Director General of the Sports Authority Of India before his meeting with the AIFF President Praful Patel for a final round of talks sealed the deal for him and handed him the job on Tuesday.
After appointing the Portuguese, Patel welcomed him saying, “It’s nice to have De Matos on board. His experience of handling youth teams will come in handy for the U-17 boys as we wish to leave no stone unturned to field a competitive team in the U-17 World Cup. I expect him to guide our boys to put up a strong performance in the World Cup.”
The 63-year-old Matos in turn thanked the AIFF for making him, “a part of the project.” Briefing on his role in an interaction with the AIFF Committee, the Portuguese said, “My role will be to orchestrate everything wherein the players will be playing their part.”
He emphasised on the fact that the upcoming World Cup scheduled to be hosted by India would be a huge step towards the development of the game in the country and he thanked the AIFF for the role it is playing in this prospect. “I admire AIFF’s vision and the U-17 World Cup will act as a base for development of Football in India. The players need to believe in themselves to do something special for the Country,” said Matos.
While opening up on his connection with India, he said, “I do have an Indian connection as my great grandfather was born in Goa.” However, he signed off saying, “I will retain the positives of the last two years as we move forward.”
Adam was shown the door earlier this year after India put on a disastrous performance in Russia as it finished last among 16 teams in the recently concluded Granatkin Memorial Tournament. However, what propelled the German’s axing was the fact that 21 players, in a letter to the AIFF, had alleged that the coach had beaten them up and tortured them during training sessions. The appointment of De Matos as the head coach, thus ushers in a new chapter in Indian U-17 football and can be definitely seen as a sign of new things to come, as the hosts get ready for the all important tournament – the U-17 FIFA World Cup, the success of which would do a world of good to Indian football.
(With inputs from PTI)