On the back of a group stage exit from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup the Blue Tigers are currently in search of a new tactician.
Stephen Constantine’s resignation after India’s AFC Asian Cup exit might have come as a surprise to many, but it was something brewing on the sidelines. Khel Now had already reported on him being replaced after the Asian Cup campaign and of the AIFF looking for his successor as well. The Englishman leaves behind an intimidating legacy to topple for any manager, but fans want to see the national team play more as they did against Thailand.
For that, the Blue Tigers need a manager who believes in positive, attacking football and can unlock the untapped potential within the squad. Quite a few options are being reviewed right now, but the AIFF needs to come up with the best possible man to take the team forward. Someone with vast experience and knowledge of Indian football is necessary to steady the ship. So, here we’ll look at five candidates who could replace the Englishman as the Indian national team’s head coach:
5. Ashley Westwood
A man with much knowledge of Indian football, Ashley Westwood could help the Indian national team make a breakthrough akin to Bengaluru FC many years ago. While Westwood didn’t have a profitable period as ATK’s technical director and later as an interim manager, he’s still got vast experience to back up his claim.
The Englishman enabled Bengaluru to play some stunning, effective football, winning them two I-League titles and the Federation Cup as well. It was under him that The Blues dominated the top flight and were an unstoppable unit. He knows many of the national team’s senior players very well and can gel with them to get the Blue Tigers to become a defensively solid, entertaining team to watch.
4. Shanmugan Venkatesh
The current India assistant coach knows all the tricks of the trade to continue the national team’s development
Currently the Indian national team’s second-in-command, Shanmugan Venkatesh has all the credentials to become a permanent one. Venkatesh worked under Constantine for more than three years, helping him with the growth of the side. A helpful, clever assistant coach, he enabled the Eglishman to create a bond among the players and make them a tough team to break down.
He knows all the tricks of the trade to continue the national team’s development and being a popular figure, the players will play for him. He can use expertise of his own to get the Blue Tigers to play the thrilling, attacking football they produced against Thailand, more regularly. Venkatesh definitely has Constantine’s own blessings to be his successor.
3. Sergio Lobera
The Spaniard believes in an attacking, possession-based style of football
FC Goa have become a spectacle in the Indian Super League under Sergio Lobera, who’s brought in a style of play widely-appreciated by fans. Lobera has stuck with his attacking, passing style of football that has dazzled fans over the last two years. He’s used his foreign talents superbly, while also vastly improving the state of his domestic players.
Lobera’s man-management skills have helped many Indian players bloom under him, something which gives him leverage for the national team role. While he recently signed a contract extension with the Gaurs, the AIFF could seal a deal to get him. The Spaniard would tranform the Blue Tigers’ style for the better, giving many deserving players opportunities, while giving the fans the attack-minded football they’ve been craving for years.
2. Derrick Pereira
Derrick Pereira knows the ins and outs of Indian football in the 21st century and having managed at the top for 19 years, he’s become an expert on how to deal with big teams. Currently serving as FC Goa’s technical director, Pereira has the experience, knowledge and ability to improve the Blue Tigers. He can make them play some impressive football and rely on the passing game which worked so well against Thailand.
Pereira’s ability to unearth gems and find players perfect for his side could help elevate many talents to the national team scene. With India needing an Indian national team coach, Pereira could be perfect to instil belief into the squad and make them play positive football.
1. Albert Roca
Possibly the best option to replace Constantine, Albert Roca is a big fan-favourite among the Indian football faithful due to his time at Bengaluru. Roca did a fantastic job in immersing BFC perfectly into the ISL last season, allowing them to top the league phase. Under him, The Blues played some effective, fluid football and were defensively solid as well.
Having managed in Spain for many years, including being FC Barcelona’s assistant manager, Roca can easily integrate his Spanish style of play into the national team. Winning the Federation Cup and improving the domestic players’ performances at Bengaluru, proved how well he’s read Indian football. Roca can be the man to take the Blue Tigers into the next phase.