Kalin takes Nepali team as a work in progressThe Post’s Prajwal Oli caught up with Johan Kalin, the national football team coach, who embarks on his second assignment next week since taking reins of Nepali men’s team on March 1.
Johan Kalin, the national football team coach, embarks on his second assignment next week since taking reins of Nepali men’s team on March 1 . Nepal are scheduled to play Malaysia on June 2 and Chinese Taipei on June 6. His first outing, a double-header against hosts Kuwait, ended in disappointment. Nepal drew the first on March 21 and lost the next 1-0 on March 25. As the team was preparing to leave for Malaysia on Thursday, the Post’s Prajwal Oli caught up with Kalin at the ANFA Complex Satdobato on Wednesday. Excerpts.
How is the training going on?
We are doing fine. My idea has from the very start has been to put the players to training as much as possible. But I have not been able to do that for various reasons. Players have good attitude, are willing to learn and working really hard to improve their game. Ideally I would have liked the players to train for prolonged time but that didn’t happen. Currently, we are trying to focus on the way of playing.
What are you doing with the team lately?
It is to bring the team into proper shape. I am trying to make my team play a game in certain way-build up from defence to midfield and then set the proper opportunity for the forward to score. I don’t want my team to rush straight away from defence to forward with long
passes. That is how I would like my team to play the game.
For the past few years, the national team has been reliant on a small pool of around 35 to 40 players. Are you satisfied with size of the pool to form a national team?
We picked up the squad from a pool of 40. We have another 20 potential top players waiting on the wings. I believe that’s a good number to choose from as all those players are somewhat par on level. What is more important for the team is to spend as much time on the pitch as possible so as to establish our style of play.
Has ANFA set any specific goals for you?
No, they haven’t set any such targets for me. But as SAFF Championship is taken as the big event here, I would like to build a team that will be capable to fighting for the title. But it’s a long way before we take aim at it. First up, we need to build a base to set up a strong team. I also have a free hand in players’ selection and I am independent on imposing my philosophy on the team.
As of now SAFF Championship is the most realistic target and everyone including Nepali football administration is dreaming to lay hands on the trophy. What is your take on that?
It would be fantastic if we manage to win the SAFF Championship. But realistically, we need to understand where we stand in the region right now as a footballing nation. India have been on the rise for the last seven-eight years. On the contrary, Nepali football has been on a rough ride for the five years. I remember watching 2001 SAFF Championship where India and Nepal were almost on par in terms of standard. Today India are two steps ahead of us and we need to close the gulf. The positive thing for Nepal is that the league resumed after four years and hopefully we will be able to bridge the gap on our neighbours.
Where do we stand as a football nation in the SAFF region?
We lost to Maldives last time [during the 2018 SAFF]. They were obviously better than us but if we work well we have the potential to get the better of them. As for India, they are definitely the one team in South Asia to take note of. They have done their bit to improve the standard of the game in the past few years. They started the professional Indian Super League, has been hiring quality coaches and their league is also strong that runs throughout the year. Their efforts obviously reflect in their performance. For our part, we can gain on India as we have will to work hard. My emphasis is the more the players spend time on the pitch the better.
What are your immediate plans with the team?
Firstly, we need to concentrate on the organisation. We conceded a needless goal against Kuwait in a friendly in March. Had we been more organised as a team we would have not lost the match. Every player in the team needs to know their position and the responsibility that comes with it. Players need to internalize their roles with or without the ball. We we do that consistently we will can call ourselves an organized team.
What are the strength and weaknesses of the team?
As I said earlier, lack of organisation is the biggest weaknesses in our team. We need to improve on our defence and attack. But hopefully we will overcome due to the players’ will to learn and work hard.
We are going to play World Cup and Asia Cup qualifiers in the near future. How do you take these tournaments?
We will try to best. Right now we don’t know who our opponents but all the teams will be ranked higher than us for sure. We expect to get very tough games. We look forward to it but need to be prepared for the worse. Players need to be prepare what will be in store playing stronger teams in those tournaments. We need look at our performances rather than results in those two tough tournaments.
What are your expecting from Malaysia and Chinese Taipei matches?
Obviously, I would like to win both the matches. There will be a game plan for both the matches. The last time we played Kuwait, we were pushed to backfoot most of the time. We are expecting tough challenge from both the teams. For me, If we play really good game and still lose it would be great. But if we play poorly and end up on the winning side, it would be helpful.