New Delhi: The new head coach of the U-17 national football team will be appointed within this month, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel said here today.
There is a greater urgency for the AIFF to name a replacement for Nicolai Adam, who was sacked by the national federation just nine months before the country hosts its first-ever FIFA event, the U-17 World Cup.
Patel said former footballers like Bhaichung Bhutia and Abhishek Yadav will initially help the new head coach to integrate with the team.
"The U-17 camp will be on track. The new coach will be in place by this month.
The AIFF will ensure that there is no harm to the preparation of the U-17 team," Patel said on the sidelines of the launch of FIFA U-17 World Cup mascot, 'Kheleo' at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.
"We have asked former players like Bhaichung and Abhishek to be with the team for a month to help in integration between the new coach and the players," he said.
The AIFF had yesterday advertised for the head coach of the U-17 team and Patel said they already have a few resumes with them and the technical committee of the federation will eventually take the decision and name Adam's replacement.
"We already have few applicants but I won't like to disclose any names. The technical committee will decide."
Just nine months ahead of the show-piece event, Adam was shown the door by the AIFF following complaints of "physical abuse" by the players.
Adam was appointed as the coach two years ago on the recommendation of the German Football Federation.
Last month, 21 players from the team submitted a letter to AIFF chief Patel, in which they alleged that the former Azerbaijan U-17 coach physically abused them.
Patel said the AIFF had no option but to part ways with the German as his continuation would have affected the performance of India in the U-17 World Cup to be held in the country from October 6 to 28 this year.
"The AIFF has not taken any action without any basis. There was friction between the players and the coach and we can't afford it to continue. The players and the coach must share a comfort level otherwise nobody can deliver," he said.
"The players complained and we took immediate action. I wish it would have come to our notice earlier," he said.
Sports Minister Vijay Goel, who today flagged off the 'Mission XI Million' initiative, a joint school engagement programme of the Government of India and AIFF, agreed with Patel and said no team can deliver when there is rift between players and the coach.
"The moment the issue (Adam sacking) came to our notice the Sports Ministry wrote to the AIFF and asked for a detailed report. The federation received complaints from the players and took the decision to change the coach.
"Most of the complaints received are regarding the coach's behaviour. It came to our notice that there was a gap between the players and the coach. When there is no understanding, it is bound to affect team's performance," Goel said.
The Sports Minister said government will extend all possible support to the AIFF in order to ensure an impressive performance from the host nation in the U-17 World Cup.
"The Sports Ministry is concerned about the team's training but we (Sports Ministry and AIFF) will have to ensure that this episode don't effect our performance," Goel said.
"In the appointment of coaches the Sports Authority of India always go by the recommendations of national federations," he added.