For someone who’s rarely heard, Savio Medeira can make you listen when
asked to speak. Amidst the din that followed India’s SAFF Cup win over Afghanistan, Medeira raised his voice that one notch to tell anyone who bothered to pay attention that it felt good to win the South Asian football title now as coach after he had won it as player.
He may have felt instantly foolish to have to remind the gathered media on when and how he did it first, but Medeira was rightfully claiming his piece of the trophy.
On Sunday, few remembered Medeira as the quiet, assured midfielder alongside the equally silent Tushar Rakshit in a 1997 tournament in Kathmandu that was drowned in the clamor of a petulant Nayeemuddin-Bhutia spat; on Sunday, not many noticed a calm and bespectacled gent by the Indian bench as his ‘unprepared’ team managed to silence a few sceptics.
“True, the game’s standard today is greater than 14 years ago, both tactically and fitness-wise, but that team had more talent,” Mederia told TOI on Monday, as he prepared for life after SAFF success. Facile or far-reaching, this sub-continental meet that India never fails to make heavy weather of, forever hangs in balance. “The AFC Challenge in March next year is clearly the more important task,” he says. “Like my players who join their clubs without rest, my work too starts right away. I’ll be watching I-League games, hoping to find some new talent.”
Mediera’s proposed camp is from mid-February, after good dozen rounds of the I-League. Since time is at a premium, while he has no plans to change the overall shape of his side, Mediera hopes he will chance upon a left-footed defender who can ease the pressure on Syed Rahim Nabi. “Nabi’s a fantastic player, so good that he can play anywhere. That’s precisely why we need a back-up for his kind,” says Mediera.
The 46-year-old Medeira’s journey from player to coach has been shorn of the spotlight. In the now-customary bleakness of Indian football, this comes with the job. It is the same philosophy that Medeira takes to work each day as national coach — remind him that he is but merely an ad-hoc appointment and Medeira nods knowingly. “Till such time, allow me to do my job professionally,” he says.
Maybe it helps him to stay away from the glare. For a coach whose eight-year managerial stint at Salgaocar is chiefly remembered for the club’s back-to-back drops from India’s premier football league, appointment then as national coach was always going to controversial. It was with this baggage that he was appointed assistant to Bob Houghton in 2008.
He is quick too to acknowledge to his mixed success at Salgaocar – he doesn’t point out that they were once National League runners up, in 2002-03.
He’s quicker to recognise the over-arching influence of Houghton, the man he succeeded in the current national side, but is firm to point out that he is his own man. “Yes, there is a lot of Houghton’s effects in the team and while we borrow from a lot of influences, each coach has his own way and own system and in time, that begins to reflect as well.”
But with Mediera, will time tell?
Source – The Times Of India Kolkata