Kolkata: National football chief coach Wim Koevermans' role has come in for a sharp criticsm as India lost their stronghold in the SAFF Championshp after being beaten by Afghanistan in the final.
Olympian P K Banerjee, under whose regime as manager and technical director India had won the title in 2005, today said the Dutchman's should come under scrutiny after Wednesday's defeat.
Taking a dig at the foreign coach, the former India captain told PTI: "He's been around for more than a year and is paid handsome salary. His role should come under scrutiny by the experts panel."
Asked whether Koevermans should be replaced, Banerjee said: "Why should I give an opinion on somebody who's appointed by the federation. The AIFF should look into it."
Dismayed at India's show, Banerjee said: "I stopped watching after India conceded a goal before going down to minnows Nepal. The performance really hurts."
"During our time (2005) when (Syed) Nayeemuddin was the coach and (Bhaichung) Bhutia the captain, we had won the title without conceding a goal.
Slamming the Indian players, Banerjee further said: "They never looked serious and did not have the heart for a big match. We were more passionate about our game. There's a lot of scope for improvements."
Another India great Chuni Goswami questioned the coach's strategy to leave out India captain Sunil Chettri, an ace forward, from the starting XI.
"It was a bad decision that backfired in the end. The coach and the entire team should be held responsible... It was unfortunate to see India go down like this."
"India were the dominating force of South Asia but with the loss it's no more the case."
Asked what should be the way forward, Goswami said: "We should look to give foreign exposure to the Indian team. Make them play against teams likes Iran, Iraq, South Korea and Japan. There has to be a plan to and we have to act together."
Former India player and Dhyan Chand awardee Shabbir Ali said there should be no execuse for such a poor result.
"The whole team should be blamed for the pathetic show. It's really surprising how they lost to Afghanistan after having dished out an inspiring show against Maldives in the semis."
"We have had a good build-up to the tournament and played practice matches. More than that we have a well-organised professional league here. So, it really beats me to see our team lose to a country like Afghanistan who don't even have proper infrastructure."
Known for his tongue-in-cheek comments, former India coach Syed Nayeemuddin was forthright as usual and said: "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."
"In the last seven years, the federation has spent INR 7 crores on foreign coaches. I wish they had similar faith on Indian coaches as well," the Dronacharya awardee, who won two SAFF titles (1997 and 2005) said.
Highly successful club coach Subhas Bhowmick also criticised the Koevermans' stragey to leave out Chhetri.
"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," Bhowmick quipped.
Blaming it on the players, former India defender Subrata Bhattacharya, a popular Mohun Bagan icon, said: "Why blame Koevermans? If you have poor quality players, even the top foreign coaches cannot help."