New Delhi: Jahar Das might be in the spotlight for helping Peerless win the Calcutta Football League (CFL) this season, but leading darkhorses to the title isn't something new for the coach. While Khalid Jamil might have been the head coach on paper when Aizawl FC won the I-League in 2017, there is no denying the fact that Das had a big role in the development of the players in the team -- first as Head of Youth Development at the club and then as coach of the first team before Jamil took over.
What makes Das' achievement with Peerless all the more special is the fact that a club outside the 'Big Three' -- East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting -- hadn't won Kolkata's premier tournament in the last 61 years. The last team to win the CFL before this was Eastern Railway Football Club in 1958.
Speaking to IANS after adding another feather to his cap, Das said that the mindless rush for foreign coaches in the country must stop if Indian football has to rise through the ranks. He went on to add that many of the foreign coaches in India have no exposure of leading teams and pointed that barring Ciric Milovan (in the early 80s) and the current national coach Igor Stimac, none of the foreign coaches belong to the top league.
"They have mainly worked as assistant coaches. Most of them have never been the head coach of any big team," he pointed. Analysing the performance of East Bengal -- coached by Alehandro Menendez Garcia -- and Mohun Bagan under Kibu Vicuna, Das said he had his doubts on their credentials as they did not do micro training like what he did with Peerless.
"There is a kind of training called micro training, which means specific training for a specific group. For example micro training for defence and micro training for the attack. This kind of training makes both defence and attack stronger. And to my surprise, I found the two big teams lack in both these areas," he said.
"As a result of this, East Bengal was never allowed to create any attack which converted into goal. Whichever attack they made on that day, were not planned attacks," he said adding that he found their defence vulnerable and the story was same with Mohun Bagan as they conceded three goals against Das' team. "We could have scored three more," he said.
"I do not understand what these foreign coaches have done. Do they only make the players run during the training sessions?" he questioned.
Das said there was no harm in foreign coaches, but only the good ones should be brought in by team managements as second string coaches wouldn't be able to deliver.
"A coach who never worked independently and followed the instruction of another coach, gets a full team to manage. How will it help?" Das asked.
When asked why clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are running after these foreign coaches, Das said that could be an excuse to escape responsibility for the defeat. "If a foreign coach loses a few matches, the supporters are more accommodative compared to team performing poorly under an Indian coach. We still think that foreign material is better than Indian," he smiled.
Das said that Peerless became CFL champions because he relied a great deal on local players. "Not that we had a great team, but our boys know what the league means to them," he said. "If you see this 61-year gap in winning a title, it is because during this period, the three big clubs were dominated by local talents," he said.
Das said that players from Bengal are lagging behind at the national level because of physical fitness. "The gap between physical fitness and skill has narrowed down and a coach will always prefer a fitter player than someone who is more skilled but unfit," he said.