SAFF Championship 2013: Final result not due to Sunil Chhetri’s absence from starting lineup – Wim Koevermans

Author : Amoy Ghoshal

Indian national football team before the 2013 SAFF Championship Final. India lost 0-2 to Afghanistan

India’s coach Wim Koevermans defended his decision to not start with skipper Sunil Chhetri in the SAFF Championship 2013 final against Afghanistan on Wednesday, and believes that the 29-year-old’s absence from the first eleven had nothing to do with India’s 2-0 defeat.

“No, I don’t think the result has anything to do with that (Sunil not starting). We played a very good semi-final so I kept the same team intact. We played a very good first half and had plenty of chances.

“Even when Sunil came on, we created many opportunities and I knew that would happen. Unfortunately,we couldn’t take any of our chances, and it wasn’t just Sunil who missed but there were other players too. As a result, Afghanistan won the final so congratulations to them,” Koevermans said at the post-match press conference.

The Dutchman went on to say that the performance in the final was their best of SAFF 2013 and that they were the better team on the night even though the result didn’t go their way.

“I am very proud of the boys. We were the best team in the ground today as we dominated, especially after their first goal. But we couldn’t convert any of our chances and that has been our story of this tournament. Unfortunately in football it’s the goals that count so I told my boys that despite the good performance which was even better than the semi-final, we didn’t reward ourselves by not putting the ball into the back of the net,” he opined.

Looking ahead, the Euro 1988 winner pointed out that the Indian national team will suffer if the deadlock between AIFF’s commercial partners IMG-Reliance and I-League clubs is not resolved anytime soon.

“The big worry back in India now is that many of my current team players are without an I-League club and that scenario is a threat to the national team. They are not in a competitive environment, and that’s a big concern. I was hoping that there will be a solution by now, but that hasn’t happened and the transfer window is also closed.

“I will go back and speak to them (the AIFF) again but I have been speaking about it before too but nothing has changed. There are seven players from this SAFF squad who are without a club and I have to think and consider what to do with them,” the 53-year-old stated.

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