New Delhi: Former India football greats including Syed Nayeemuddin (in pic) and Subhash Bhowmick slammed national team's head coach Wim Koevermans after the humiliating 2-0 loss to Afghanistan in the final of the SAFF Cup. (Read: Koevermans' role should come under scrutiny, says PK Banerjee)
Six-time champions India were staring at a hat-trick of SAFF Cup titles but were completely outplayed by Afghanistan in the final on Wednesday.
Former India coaches Nayeemuddin and Sukhwinder Singh were left shocked at India's dismal performance in the tournament. (Read: Shower of bullets mark Afghanistan's first win over India)
"When I was the coach, the team had beaten Maldives 5-1 in SAFF Cup final at the same venue in 1997. I cannot imagine that we had to see this day. In the last seven years, the federation has spent Rs.7 crores on foreign coaches. I wish they had similar faith on Indian coaches as well," he said.
Nayeemuddin said Koevermans should be sacked immediately and should be replaced with an Indian coach. (Read: IM Vijayan says Indian football has not improved in recent years)
"I feel Wim should resign immediately. The need of the hour is an Indian coach and he should get all the facilities given to a foreign coach," he said.
Sukhwinder lamented that SAFF Cup was the only tournament that India dominated, but that too is not the case now.
"I am shocked with the result. The SAFF Cup was the only tournament where India were the dominating force. But I don't think it will be the same anymore," he said.
Asked whether the coach should be sacked, Sukhwinder said: "It will be tough to say if Koevermans should be sacked because I don't even know when he was appointed as the India coach. I don't even know about his CV."
India's most successful club coach Bhowmick, who guided Churchill Brothers to I-League triumph last season, wondered how can a coach leave out the skipper and prolific striker Sunil Chettri from the starting eleven in a final.
"India were poor throughout the tournament except for a couple of matches. In the final they looked pathetic. I was shocked to see the coach leaving out Chettri from the starting line-up. I won't comment much on the coach because the federation only thinks that they cannot do without foreign coaches," he said.
Olympian and former India captain Chuni Goswami said the loss was a disgrace for the national team.
"For long, India were the dominating team in South Asia. And now we are losing to Afghanistan, where the footballers don't even have proper infrastructure for the game. The final was like Indian goalkeeper against the whole Afghan team. I just want to know what the remaining 10 Indian players were doing," Goswami said.
Goswami, however, doesn't feel that sacking Koevermans is the right way to go forward.
"I don't think sacking the coach will be the solution. What will the coach do when you don't have quality players," said Goswami.
Former Mohun Bagan and East Bengal coach Subrata Bhattacharya was critical of the poor quality of Indian players.
"Why blame Koevermans. If you have poor quality players even the top foreign coaches can't do anything. I feel only an Indian coach can make a difference," he said.