The All India Football Federation’s Technical Committee met virtually on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, to evaluate the performances of the men’s and women’s national teams across all age groups.
The meeting was chaired by former India captain IM Vijayan and attended by AIFF Secretary General Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran, Deputy Secretary General Satyanarayan M, Technical Director Syed Sabir Pasha, and members Pinky Bompal Magar, Harjinder Singh, Arun Malhotra, Climax Lawrence and Eugeneson Lyngdoh.
The Secretary General informed the Technical Committee about the Memorandum of Understanding that the AIFF signed with the Central Asian Football Association (CAFA). As per the MoU, the Indian national teams across all age groups will be invited to participate in CAFA tournaments. The Technical Committee members appreciated the fact that CAFA member nations are basically strong football-playing countries, and it will help the Indian footballers play against tougher opponents.
Dr. Prabhakaran said, “The tournaments where we will compete against the Central Asian teams will greatly help our footballers compete and perform at a higher level. Having the opportunity to play such tournaments will help us aim higher, and our target is to start challenging the top Asian teams by 2026.”
The Committee appreciated the efforts put in by the men’s and women’s team players at the Asian Games earlier this year, despite facing higher-ranked opponents and difficult circumstances. The members also recommended that the matter of players being released by clubs for tournaments like the Asian Games be discussed at the next Executive Committee meeting.
Members of the Committee agreed that the Senior Women’s National Team performed admirably against tough opponents like Thailand and the Chinese Taipei in the Asian Games but recommended that the Blue Tigresses be given longer preparation time and exposure friendlies to prepare for such events.
The Committee suggested to the members that the U-23 National Team needs to be built up, with current Senior National Team assistant coach and former India defender Mahesh Gawali at the helm. Suggestions were also made for Gawali to lead the project for the development of the other junior teams, in order to streamline the progression of the players.
The performance of the India U-17 Women’s Team in the AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers was well received by the members, especially as they competed well against higher-ranked sides like the Korea Republic, and Thailand.
The AIFF, for the first time in three years, has organised the sub-junior and junior women’s national football championships. While the members felt that India are lagging in junior football at the domestic level, the commencement of such national championships, along with the junior elite leagues and Khelo India, will help bridge that gap.
The Committee also suggested the Federation create a database for the U-19 players in order to better track and monitor their progress.