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.

A member of the special committee constituted by All India Football Federation to recommend the coach has alleged that the AIFF has bypassed the panel in naming Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos as the “number one choice”.

The AIFF, however, defended its decision with its General Secretary Kushal Das saying that he (de Matos) was best suited for the job.

b’Nicolai Adam (C) was sacked by the AIFF earlier in the month. AIFF’

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. Other members are Das and Kishore Taid, Head of Operations and Strategy of the AIFF.

“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 today.

“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.

b’Matos (R) is now the front-runner for the job. Facebook’

Defending the AIFF’s decision, General Secretary Kushal Das said, “It was an advisory committee and not a selection committee. We identified 7-8 candidates and we were asked to do skype interviews. The interviews were done by me, Kishore and Abhishek. After the interviews, we identified Luis Norton de Matos as the most suitable candidate to come for the interview in India with Secretary Sports and the AIFF President.”

He said de Matos will come for an interview around February 28 but no selection of the coach has been made yet.

“For some reasons, a member of the committee wants Colm Toal (the former AIFF technical director and Under-16 and Under-19 coach). He (Colm Toal) is a very good coach and person. But the kind of profile this person (de Matos) has the likes of Colm Toal are not in the same league.

b’Constantine (L) helped the junior team while the AIFF searches for a successor to Nicolai. AIFF’

“We talked to Portugal national coach Fernando Santos and asked him about de Matos. Santos said he (de Matos) is not a good coach but a very good coach. We asked the Portugal FA and they also recommended him (de Matos) very strongly. We went to FIFA and its technical side gave the recommendation. So, I don’t know why one member of the committee wants Toal and not de Matos.”

Das also said that Colm Toal’s application had come from a Sports Management Company.

The member of the committee, who was not happy with the naming of de Matos as the number one choice, said, “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.

Das had said yesterday 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.

Feature image source: AIFF