The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has named Derrick Pereira as the head coach of the Indian Under-23 team, who will be replacing national coach Stephen Constantine, who stepped down after India’s defeat against Bahrain in AFC Asian Games earlier this year.
It is known that Derrick Pereira will take the charge from immediate effect and will be continuing only up to 2020 AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifier, which is scheduled to take place in Uzbekistan in March this year. The Asian Championship will take place in Thailand next year which eventually will determine the Asian qualification for the forthcoming 2020 Olympics.
The U-23 team will play their first friendly game against Qatar in Doha on March 11. Interestingly, this will also be the first game under Derrick’s guidance. This remains to be seen if he is able to help India qualify for the championship next year.
The All India Football Federation’s General Secretary Kushal Das congratulated Derrick and said his experience will be invaluable for the U-23 national team.
“His coaching pedigree along with AFC Pro Licence degree is the perfect recipe to guide our young players in the AFC U-23 qualifiers. We aim to qualify from the group to the AFC Championship next year, and I wish him and the team good luck,” Das said.
Pereira was happy to take up the post and believes that it has been an absolute honour to lead this talented bunch of players.
“It’s an absolute honour to get associated with the National Team set-up. I love to take challenges,” he maintained. “I know most of the players and have seen them in action. But we need to find the right combination to perform and achieve the desired results,” he stated
National team director Abhishek Yadav said, “The experience of Derrick Pereira as a coach will be important for our team. The preparatory camp will be followed by a practice match against Qatar U-23 which will be a huge test.”
Pereira stressed the challenge against Qatar will be tough. “They are a quality side. I have a feeling that some of the U-23 boys from Qatar will be in their 2022 World Cup squad. It will be a tough challenge which will help us prepare for future assignments,” he explained.