I-League coaches struggling to meet AFC criteria

September 25th, 2008 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) With the second edition of the I-League all set to kick-off Friday, club coaches are struggling to meet the licensing criteria set by Asian Football Confederation (AFC).The I-league started last year on the lines of AFC’s pro-league. As a pre-requisite set by the AFC, all coaches in the I-League must have an AFC A license, Pro-license or equivalent.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) in consultation with the world body FIFA relaxed the club licensing rules last year which said that AFC B license holders could continue coaching in the I-League.

But still some of the coaches couldn’t meet it last year and even if they fail this year, it may cost India a berth in the AFC Champions League, which is the elite club tournament in the continent. It is mandatory for all clubs to have an A-licence or a Pro-licence coach to take part in the Champions League.

As of now only four coaches out of 12 teams fulfil the criteria. Dempo’s Armando Colaco, Sporting Clube de Goa’s Ekendra Singh and East Bengal’s newly appointed coach Stanley Rosario have the Pro-licence while Mahindra United’s Derek Pereira has an A-licence.

The AIFF is still in doubt whether the licences of the other coaches meet the AFC guidelines.

“All the coaches in the I-League do not fulfil the A-licence criteria. Some have other coaching licences. AFC has asked us to send qualification details of all the coaches to them. They will take a final decision on it,” AIFF general secretary Alberto Colaco told IANS.

AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi also admitted the problem: “Unfortunately most of our coaches don’t have A-licence. We have some international coaches, who have B and C licence. We have to send their names to the AFC to allow them to continue for another year.”

Dasmunsi went on to add that AFC’s rules are strict and it is very difficult to meet for developing countries like India.

“The I-league was designed on the lines of the successful Japanese league, J-League, which was the brainchild of Saburo Kawabuchi. He is also the chairman of the AFC pro-league committee and during a meeting I told him that don’t expect a developing country like India to meet all the guidelines in one or two years,” he said.

Colaco added that the national body has sent the certificates submitted by Mohun Bagan’s Moroccan coach Karim Bencharifa and Mohammedan Sporting coach Shabir Ali to the AFC but the Asian body hasn’t reverted back.

To bail out the coaches, the AIFF in association with the AFC organised an A-licence camp for the coaches in Jamshedpur last month. But only two I-League coaches appeared for it.

“JCT’s Parminder Singh and Dempo’s assistant coach Mauricio Afonso were the only two top coaches in the camp. They have appeared for the test but it will take some time for them to get the licence,” said Gabriel Joseph, who was an instructor at the camp.

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