My players deserve all the credit: Augusto D’Silva – Maharashtra U-15 coach

Maharashtra Sub junior champions

Maharashtra U-15 side emerged victorious in the West Zone Qualifying round of the All India sub-junior Championship in Goa last week, as Augusto D’Silva’s side banged in thirty goals in five games to clinch the zonal championship and qualify for the national round to be held in the third week of January.

Augusto D’Silva was the architect of this potent Maharashtra outfit. He spoke to us about his team’s achievement, some finds of this tournament and what it takes to develop a talent out of these young kids.

Q. Your team won the West Zone qualifying round of the All India sub-junior Championship in Goa. What do you think was the key to its success?

Ans: The key to this success were my players. They deserve all the credit for the win. We played five games in a very short span of time and it was difficult for them, but still they did so well. It was difficult for us as we got less time to pick the squad up, so we could not do a lot of scouting, but we picked up a squad and they did well to gel with each other in such a short span of time. But being a coach, I do take responsibility of the team.

Q. Your team was down and out in the last of the league game, trailing 4-1 to Goa at half time. How did you inspire that comeback which saw you get a point with a 5-5 draw?

Ans: We made a lot of technical errors in the first half. I observed that we were holding a very high backline and the Goa forwards had great pace and we struggled against that. I knew and had great belief in my midfield. They were intelligent and technically sound. I told the team to focus on two things; first touch and short passing. Goa were more of a direct team and I knew if we could get hold of the ball, we could create problems for them. We had practiced these two things a lot and it paid off as we scored within five minutes of the second half and they got a red card. Then we were leading 5-4 but we made an error while defending the corner and it was 5-5. We played very well in the second half. Kamran was really good for us as he scored a hat-trick.

Q. What difficulties do you face while dealing with this age group (U-15) of players? How do you deal with them?

Ans: At such a small age, my focus is on preparation. We need to prepare them technically. The focus is all on that rather than winning. Its very important to have a strong grass root base. I use a lot of visuals to show them how to play. The other day I was teaching the forwards how to split a defense through videos. It helps them understand in a much better way. So the videos have become a very important aspect of coaching and needs to be used extensively.

Q. Could you pick out the real finds of this tournament?

Ans: There were a lot of good players on show. But from our side, I would say our entire midfield is good. Nakul is the player which has impressed me a lot. He is one of the best players at this level in my opinion. Then there is Kamran who has scored a bagful of goals for us and Aman Kirnapure too. From the other team, Boris and Myron from Goa were the two kids, who I felt had a lot of potential. They need good coaching and they will be great for the country in the future. I am glad that many of them are under good coaches with their clubs or schools.

Q. Going into the National Round, how would you rate your team’s chances?

Ans: After what I saw in Goa, I feel we can win this tournament. We beat a Goa team who had practiced for more than five weeks and we hardly had the time to practice. So if we could get a good time practicing together we can do wonders. There is a big difference between the qualifying round and the final round as in the final round all the teams are winners and there is slightly more pressure. But I am confident about my team’s abilities and we have a good chance to at least make the final.

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