Given the circumstances around which Nicolai Adam quit, would it be difficult for the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to get a replacement seven months before the under-17 World Cup? Based on the feelers it is said to have received — there is one from a former Real Madrid coach and another who was once with the Portugal youth team — the AIFF thinks that won’t be the case.
“Hopefully, we will have a new coach by March,” said Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary, over the phone from New Delhi, on Thursday.
Nicolai Adam agreed to leave after 21 boys mutinied against the German and his Azeri deputy following a disastrous tournament in Russia which is said to be the tipping point of two years of alleged misbehaviour.
It is possible that AIFF would drop the charges once Adam resigns, just like it did in 2011 with Bob Houghton who was accused of racial abuse.
A scared outfit
The boys have stayed back in New Delhi on AIFF’s expense after returning from Russia on January 23 apparently because they were scared to go to Goa fearing Nicolai Adam confronting them, said a federation official on condition of anonymity.
They even snubbed efforts by Bhaichung Bhutia and Renedy Singh, who between them have 160 senior India caps, at a rapprochement. Both had long careers in Kolkata where abuse from the galleries is a regular feature.
The boys’ written complaint meant the issue got taken beyond locker-room talk and forced the AIFF’s hand. But it also merits the question whether players not old enough to vote can decide the fate of their coach in a tournament this important?
Not a healthy situation
And what if they don’t like whoever replaces Adam? What if age-group teams in football and other disciplines use this as a precedent against a coach who is a tough taskmaster?
And if Nicolai Adam, who skipped attending his father’s last rites last year because India were playing the Asian U-16 finals, had player-management issues, as the boys have claimed, isn’t it strange that the Indians in his support staff kept mum before the meltdown in New Delhi?
Should the AIFF be serious in probing this, the masseur, manager and goalkeepers’ coach, among others, need to be asked to explain their nearly two-year ‘silence’.
For the moment, the AIFF is reaching out to the French and German football federations, with whom it has long-standing agreements, and linking up with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in search of a ‘father-figure’ coach.
Meanwhile, the boys will go home for a short break and return to Goa to follow a training schedule charted by out-going technical director Scott O’Donnell.