By Shoubhik Mukhopadhyay,
AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: The defending Hero I-League Champions Aizawl FC have roped in Paulo Meneses for the upcoming season and unarguably, the Portuguese gaffer has a lot to do to live up to the expectation.
The 39-year old coach has played for a number of lower division Portuguese sides before and this assignment will be his first major coaching assignment, as confirmed by the club official. Before embarking his journey with the Highlanders, the eloquent coach spoke at a length with www.i-league.org about his target, work procedure, nurturing local talents and much more. EXCERPTS:
What prompted you to take up the responsibility of Aizawl FC?
I liked the idea that Aizawl FC presented to me. And they liked the project I presented to Aizawl FC. So, we can consider 2 parts for my decision:
Project for the club: This is a club that wants to grow up. We want to develop the young players of the team and put them in the India National Team. I want also improve and develop the professional structures of the club, for example, to help the club to develop several departments (Scouting, Academy Methodology, Marketing etc).
Competitions: As Aizawl FC are the reigning I-League Champion, I have the challenge to defend the title with them and pushing the team to compete in the AFC Champions League next season.
will there be added pressure on you handling the defending champions?
It’s not a pressure for a football coach, I would rather say this is a good pressure. I need and I like this kind of pressure because It is a very good challenge for me. Players will be highly motivated to compete in the I-League.
We are building a strong core team with young Mizo players. You know, the team had undergone a lot of changes recently as quite a few good players left. But we are in a process of rebuilding the team with a good team spirit. We prefer to go step by step, game by game.
Aizawl FC’s away record was not very impressive. How you will you address it?
This team present an attractive brand of Football. Everyone is very happy with our performance. About the match moments, we have improved a lot, individually and collectively. We have the sole goal- fighting for the 3 points every match, wherever we play.
Aizawl FC are synonymous for roping in local talents. Will you walk the same path as well?
One of the ideas of the Aizawl FC board was to sign a Coach for work and develop the young talents. I would like to mention that Mizo players are very intense, with a good attitude. They work very hard in the training and go under the opposition’s skin in the games.
They also have good Technical skills as well along with the positive mindset. I would like to say that we have some players have talent enough for to play in India National Team and we have a few players who can play in Europe. But, they have to work hard and harder to achieve the next level.
What’ll be your message for the Aizawl FC fans?
This team work very well. These players work hard in the training sessions and they will certainly give their best in the matches to get all 3 points.
I have heard that the supporters are very close to the club and they feel proud of these players. I have already felt the power and the passion of the Aizawl FC Supporters.
I would ask the Aizawl FC Supporters to come to the stadium to support us. I believe we will be stronger together and we can achieve our goal this season.