Zico - "I am not here to be a mere passenger"

FC Goa press conference with
Srinavas Dempo and Zico

Arthur Antunes Coimbra (Zico), Manager and Chief Coach, FC Goa

It feels fantastic to be in India. I hope to contribute significantly to football not only in Goa but India as a whole. There is a huge responsibility placed on my shoulders and I will do justice to it. I know expectations are high. I am motivated to take on this role of coach to FC Goa. We cannot work in isolation but have to do so as a team. We have to work together to raise the standards of football in the country. I plan to take the team and football to the highest level and will do my best. Thank you for a wonderful welcome to India.

What are your expectations from India?

ISL is a big league. I sincerely hope that the quality of football will rise with the Indian Super League and it will benefit football as a whole.  For success, we have to work very hard. I have done so in my country and will do the same in India. I will offer my experience and knowledge to better the sport of football in the country.

Asian football  is getting stronger. I am not here to be a mere passenger, I am here to be a part of the development of football in the country.

India is a very large country but it is very unfortunate that the standard of football is not too high. I came to Kolkata in 2004 for the world cup preliminaries and saw stadia full of people enthusiastically cheering and enjoying the game. If there is so much love for the game then there should be something done to raise its standard. I hope that football scales greater heights with the help of the federation and the government.

What is your main focus over the next few weeks?

My objective is clear. The objective is to reach the finals and win. I am optimistic about this. We have to prepare well though. I want to get to know each and every one of the players well as soon as possible and I will share my philosophy of the game with the team.

You have trained in Japan and Turkey. What are the challenges that come with coaching in a non-developed country like India?

Each country is different from the other. In Japan there was no professionalism at all. But the biggest advantage I had was that everyone in the Japanese team was united and wanted to progress from amateur football to professional football. In Turkey, they’ve been concentrating on the internal football league only. I tried to change their mentality and encouraged them to venture beyond their comfort zone and look towards the international arena. That is how they took the initiative to play in Europe and other parts of the world. Youngsters in Qatar were not interested in football at all. I had to build that drive inside them for them to take the game seriously. Sometimes bringing big players to the table doesn’t help if the players don’t have the urge to change their mentality. But I managed to do that in Qatar. If India would like to grow, it depends on the Indian football players’ mentality. We can provide help through our rich experience but the ability to grow lies solely in you. I am here to extend my help for the growth of football whether the player is amateur or a professional.

How did you get into coaching? Was it Is it difficult to make the transition from a player to a 

I focused on the playing. I never thought that I would coach. I went to Japan to play. Somewhere along the line I was requested to coach the team and I accepted. That’s how coaching happened. The team wasn’t doing too well for a few years. The president requested me to take over when there were just 13 matches remaining. We worked together as a team and at the end of those 13 matches,  we had won 11, lost one and drew two.  We finished at fifth place. I started to enjoy coaching and that’s how my coaching career began.

Who according to you is one of the best football players at the moment?

James Rodrigues from Columbia.

Players have already been signed to FC Goa before you could take over. How do you feel about it?

I don’t see anything wrong in this at all. When I went to Iraq, players were selected and I had only 5 days to be with the team, still I trained them. The players belong to the club and not to the trainer. The club selects the players, I do my duty and train them. My basic duty is to train and to bring out the best in the players I have been assigned to. Which sometimes is good. Often when the results are bad, the coach is blamed for selecting the players and that becomes a bigger problem for the coach. In Brzail, if you lose four matches, you are sent home. But in England, coaches stay on for 12 and even 15 years. This differs from culture to culture. My job is to make the players better so that they do their best. It may be very easy for FC Goa to even sign on a Ronaldo or a Neymar. My job will still be to train them.

Is coaching far more difficult than playing ?

It has been a difficult transition from player to coach because your whole focus is raising the standard of the team. It’s much more difficult for sure. A coach needs to look into every minute detail.  What is important is not to hold onto all responsibilities by yourself but to allot responsibilities. Its important to delegate. To plan well and prepare the team. Its important to work together as a team. To be successful as a team, everyone needs to play their role well, the players as well as the technical staff.

Winning is a combination of many elements working towards a single goal.

(Left to right)Srinivas Dempo(Chairman &
MD, Dempo Group Of Companies)
 and Zico, Manager & Chief Coach, FC Goa

Mr. Shrinivas Dempo, Chairman and Managing Director, Dempo Group of Companies

"On behalf of the team at FC Goa Goa and the people of Goa, I extend a warm welcome to Zico. Goa is the only state where football is the state sport, thanks to the Chief Minister Mr. Parrikar. We believe we can make a difference to the sport of football in the country. And now that we have Zico, we look to infusing new energy into the sport.

Everyone wants to know why Zico? Because he’s Zico.  He is the finest player in the world in terms of strategy and professionalism. He’s a living legend.  He has had an impressive coaching career 2002 when he began coaching. I was in Japan in 2006 and saw it firsthand. We believe he can make a difference to football in India. The next step is to make sure to get India better qualified to compete in the world cup. I acknowledge the efforts put in by Beto to help us get Zico to India."

Did you have Brazilian flair football in mind while hiring Zico?

Yes.  I recently travelled to Brazil for the world cup. Brazilian football is different in some ways. We have the very best in football talent in Zico. If Zico and Arthur can get together and bring the best out of our Indian footballers, it will be great.

Are you happy with the signings of FC Goa?

We have a 40 to 50 years history in football. We have excellent players on board. Arthur and the team have gone through the technical analysis and we have been pretty successful in getting the players we wanted, both domestics and international. And now we have Zico. He has already got down to business with the team. Yes. I am satisfied. We not only have a great team, but a whole eco system which will work together towards success.

Can the I-League and ISL co-exist? Is it difficult being part of both?

Yes. The I-League and ISL can coexist, there’s a lot of synergy between the two. Players can move across teams. We are participating in all the tournaments and we will now have football all year round. I-League and ISL are both important for the overall development of football.

Will Zico be here for long?

I wish would be for him to be here in Goa permanently. That would be wonderful for the sport of football. There is no doubt that he will contribute immensely to football. But he may have other commitments which may not make it possible. I hope he continues to stay here longer.

Who do you consider your biggest rival in the ISL considering that nearly all teams are about nearly final?

Every team is a rival. All the teams seem to be well prepared.  There is immense talent and quality coming into the sport. Stadia are getting upgraded in every state. Each teams objective is to win and every match is crucial. So I would take every team seriously.

Dempos have been in football for over 50 years. What did Indian football not have all this while that things will change now that you have Zico?

We’ve tried to sustain football for a long time. Earlier budgets were not very high. But then we had to sit together and thing seriously about the sport. How do we classify football? Is it a part of CSR? Is it serious football? Will we ever be able to get returns on the investments one has made? And we realized that beyond a limit, football is a serious business and we had to make it serious business. ISL has come about at the right time. Once ISL become successful, probably the brad of I-league too will improve. ISL and I-League complement each other

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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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