Asian Football Vice-chief Wants Colaco to Stay On

Abhishek Roy/IANS

New Delhi, Aug 26: As the All India Football Federation (AIFF) gets down Sunday to select the new general secretary, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) vice-president Manilal Fernando feels that incumbent Alberto Colaco should continue in the interest of Indian football.

On a surprise two-day visit to India, the Sri Lankan business tycoon impressed upon AIFF's stand-in president Praful Patel that Colaco's departure at this juncture would be a big blow to Indian football.

Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of the ONGC Nehru Cup Tuesday, Fernando, a known bitter rival of AIFF's ailing president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi in the AFC, is believed to have told Patel that Colaco should stay and his office should be strengthened with a team of professional executives.

Colaco, a trusted lieutenant of Dasmunsi, told Patel in June that he would not like to continue as general secretary and the exercise to find a successor began.

Sri Lankan Fernando, who is also a FIFA development officer for South and Central Asia, said Colaco's experience of eight years in office should be utilised when Indian football is in for quantum leap.

"I had a long chat with Mr. Patel on the future of Indian football. I think it is not the right time for Colaco to leave Indian football. He has been in the loop of things for the last eight years. And a change in the administration at this critical juncture could be fatal," he said.

Colaco's eight-year tenure as AIFF's first professional general secretary will end by this month-end as a selection committee had already short-listed candidates for the job.

"AIFF should get professional staff to man the office of the general secretary. I feel Colaco has done a commendable job and he should carry on for some more time," he said.

Colaco refused to comment on Fernando's views, but said: "Lot of people now want me to stay."

Fernando also said that the I-League committee must have hands-on chairman and CEO and Colaco can't be doubling for everything in the federation.

"I-League should have a full-time chairman besides a CEO. I am happy that there will soon be a CEO. It's time the league had a full-time chairman. I have suggested to Patel a eminent sports administrator's name for the chairman's post," he said.

Asked whether it was Colaco's name, Fernando said: "I can't reveal you the name, but he is an Indian."

Fernando said under Patel's leadership Indian football is safe.

"We are trying to formulate a business plan for Indian football. In a short time Mr. Patel has brought in a lot of money for the development of the sport. He is a successful businessman and minister. His presence will certainly make a difference," said Fernando.


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