By Debayan Mukherjee,
NEW DELHI: For Derrick Pereira, it is all about ‘being at the right place at the right time’. In a freewheeling interview with the www.the-aiff.com, the Salgaocar Coach spoke on his new journey with his alma-mater, importance of pre-season transfer market, difference between working with Pune FC and Salgaocar, Youth Development and much more. EXCERPTS:
You must be happy with the way your reunion as a Coach at Salgaocar has gone about.
I am very happy with the way things are going at the moment. I am building up the Team with young Players and some quality foreign recruits who are ready to work hard and have the right attitude to perform as a unit.
Considering the fact that Airtel I-league has always been an open race, how do you rate the first eight performances?
We could have been better against Mohun Bagan, especially with the ball. We were very good defensively. We need to improve going forward. Otherwise it’s too early to read too much into the performances. It’s a huge League. But I am happy with the start that we have got. We are improving with every game.
Can a good start in an unpredictable I-League flattering at times?
It’s a long journey. You have to be on your toes all the time, plan match by match. The initial few results have been good but there is no way you can afford to put your foot off the pedal.
There are many issues you need to deal with while playing the Airtel I-League. In some matches you play on artificial turf and some you play on natural grass. There you need to adjust. bench strength is very important and a fit bench is the key to success. Your Squad needs to be strong.
Tell us something the Squad at your disposal.
It is a very young Squad with a lot of potential. We need to improve on certain areas like the combination play between the midfield and strikers. Overall it’s a good Squad who are willing to go that extra mile in order to achieve targets.
What is a significant difference you find working with both the outfits, Pune FC and Salgaocar?
Pune FC is a very professional club and sets an example for others to follow. They are the first Club in the Country to fulfill Club Licensing Criteria and that speaks volumes about their intent. There is lot of scope for Youth Development and improving overall infrastructure at Pune FC.
In Goa, competition is more than Pune. There are so many good teams both in the Airtel I-League and local League whom you can play for preparation.
With Pune FC you have attained a certain level of success. How do you aim to replicate or even better that with Salgaocar?
I give my hundred percent wherever I go. I have been fortunate enough to have a good management backing my plans. I thank God for putting me in the right place at the right time.
How significant is the transfer market before the start of a season?
It is important. We have some good foreign players in our ranks. (Darryl) Duffy is a fantastic footballer and moves forward so brilliantly being there at the right place at the right time. His positional skills are very good and is a poacher.
Claude (Gnakpa) is suffering from a nagging shoulder injury which is not allowing him to perform to his full potential. We are hoping for his speedy recovery. Chika (Wali) is also a good buy.
I feel that in terms of selecting which Indian Players to buy, the planning needs to start well in advance. Scouting and the entire selection process needs to be initiated earlier than it is done after the season ends.
Any upcoming Indian talent in your ranks who you think can have a good future with the Indian National Team?
There are some players who I feel can go the mile. Clifton (Dias) is a very good prospect and so is Brian (Mascarenhas) on the left wing. Brian has been selected for the Lusofonia Games too. Then there is Augustin (Fernanades) also. Surjit (Singh) is a versatile footballer who can play on both full-back postions. Lenny (Pereira) is also good. They are all good prospects and have to work harder to make it to the highest level.
What’s your take on the U-23 Rule in place?
I think it’s a very positive move. Now the thing you need good quality U-23 players who can play ninety minutes on the pitch. Otherwise there is no point. Players are taken off shortly after the match starts. That must not happen.
East Bengal recently rewrote history by reaching the semi-finals of the AFC Cup. Do you think the Indian Clubs have taken giant strides at the Continental level?
We still have a long way to go but this is certainly a step in the right direction. Investment on Youth Development and Grassroots in the only way forward for Indian football to grow and I feel clubs should focus on that to feature regularly at Asian Competitions.