Make SAFF C`ship an U-23 tournament, says Medeira
New Delhi: Indian football coach Savio Medeira Saturday said that the SAFF Championships should be an Under-23 event as it is tough for seniors to play in a tournament because of hectic schedule.
He said the regional biennial tournament can be used as an event to build a reserve team to the senior side.
"My personal view is that SAFF Championships should be an Under-23 tournament. It`s tough for senior national players to play on every alternate days under the current format," he said.
"The schedule is tough for the players as they were playing in I-League prior to the start of the tournament and now they will again play in I-League again after this. If we want to prolong the career of players, I think the championship should be an Under-23 event," Medeira told reporters ahead of India`s SAFF Championship final against Afghanistan on Sunday.
He said by converting the tournament into an Under-23 event, it will prepare a reserve team for national teams.
"Changing the championship into an Under-23 event will help us build a reserve team. I hope there are changes in future," he said.
Captain Climax Lawrence and central defender Gouramangi Singh also spoke in the same vein.
"It`s very hectic for us to play in the SAFF Championship as the current format means that we have to play on alternate days. Moreover, it is being held in the midst of I-League. So it`s better, if it is made an Under-23 tournament," Gouramangi said.
"One option could be that the championship is held at a time when there is no I-League," Lawrence said.
Talking about tomorrow`s summit clash, Medeira said that his side respects Afghanistan as they have played consistently well in the tournament so far.
"We respect Afghanistan. It is their first entry into the final and technically they are a good side. They have some very good players, who play in Europe. From the first match to the semifinals, we have seen they played consistently well," he said.
"The boys are going to give their 100 per cent. Afghanistan are good in most departments of the game and we are also in good shape, high on confidence. There is no injury worries and we are looking forward to play our best tomorrow," said Medeira.
Afghanistan coach Yousef Kargar said that his side were the underdogs and India are favourites to win the final on Sunday.
"India are a very strong side. We are the underdogs. They have very good players and have home advantage. But we are well prepared for the final tomorrow," he said.
"This tournament means a lot for us. It will give a boost to football in Afghanistan," he said.