Suman Chakravorty: The moment, the football fans across the country are elated about the supreme improvement in international football, the moment everyone is hailing Coach Stephen Constantine for his resounding success in the last couple of years, the moment football fans in Asia is heaping praise for India’s terrific show against Thailand in the opening game of the AFC Asian Cup, one old man is smiling with satisfaction from thousands of miles away in The USA. Colin Toal, the man who scouted the majority of this Indian football team 11 years back, has now been showing the nation why he was so special is taking Indian football to the next level. All the way from The US, Mr.Toal gave an exclusive interview to www.xtratime.in journalist Suman Chakravorty on India’s amazing show. Here goes the entire conversation.
XT: It was you who had sown the seeds of this Indian team 11 years back. How do you see them now in the AFC Asian Cup 2019?
Toal: I am very happy for Indian football that we are so close to moving forward in such a big Tournament. Stephen Constantine has done a very fine job with this group of players.
XT: Football in your tenure in India and football in 2019 in India. How much change you can spot?
Toal: There have been big changes. We have had 12 years of consistency in our National Youth Development Program which has raised the level of this National team and will raise the level of all National Teams in the future.
XT: What do you want to say about Sunil Chhetri?
Toal: I think his record as an International player and Captain speak for themselves.
XT: How far is the World Cup qualification dreams from here on?
Toal: With every year of development at every level of the game it will get closer.
XT: The AIFF has revived the Arrows project again. Your thoughts?
Toal: I think it is a very important decision for Indian football and hope that it will not be abandoned as it was the first time it was tried.
XT: The I-League players are getting neglected in the national team selection even after performing in the I-League. Your take?
Toal: I am very happy that there is an I-League in place because it means that there are so many more Indian boys able to play at the professional level. As far as International team selection is concerned that should always be up to the Head Coach to decide.
XT: Do you think Indian football is in the right direction?
Toal: I think that there are always areas where you would like to see improvement. However, the trend is certainly one where we are moving forward.
XT: Your take on Stephen Constantine?
Toal: As I said earlier, I think that he has done a fine job and that whatever happens in this tournament the body of work he has done with this team is there for us all to see.
XT: How far India can go in the AFC Asian Cup this time?
Toal: Time will tell but there is no doubting the Tournament is a big step forward.
XT: What should India do from here on to play the world cup?
Toal: Keep working to improve at all levels of the game.
XT: Do you think India should hand a fresh contract to Constantine which expires in March?
Toal: If Stephen wants to stay. Why would you want to make a change?