Bangalore: National football coach Wim Koevermans today said that he was saddened by All India Football Federation slapping a two-year ban on Mohun Bagan from I-League for abandoning the violence-marred derby match against East Bengal but felt it was done according to the rules of the game.
"It is a tough punishment as many players cannot play for a moment. Of course, I am unhappy with the ban. But I also know one has to play according to the rules laid down," he told reporters here.
Mohun Bagan were a goal down against bitter rivals East Bengal on December 9 derby when a stone hurled from one of the stands, apparently aimed at the referee, hit the club`s midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi.
The match resumed after a brief stoppage towards the end of the first half, but Mohun Bagan refused to take the field after the interval as India international Nabi was taken to the hospital and treated for a fractured right jaw.
Asked about the chances of the national team in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, especially when they are drawn alongside Myanmar, Guam and Chinese Taipei, Koevermans said India should aim to win the tournament.
"That`s what we did in Nehru Cup. Everybody said wow. All the teams were above India in FIFA ranking, but in the end we did excel. That says something about the strength and mentality of our players. We want to win the first game against Palestine and next win AFC Challenge Cup," he said.
Asked how does he monitor Sunil Chhetri who has signed up with Sporting Lisbon, Koevermans said he was in touch with the star footballer who plays four times a week with good players that helps him to improve his game.
"We monitor all other players too. We want to know how things are going with them," he added.
Talking about national team`s performance, Koevermans said they did fairly well in Nehru Cup and though failed to score even a single goal in the AFC Challenge Cup last year, they played well in the tournament.
"I am very confident about the performance of the team. We are already some places up in FIFA ranking. We were 169, now we are ranked 166," he said.
Koevermans said he was a firm believer of the philosophy of playing on FIFA match days and asked the AIFF to hold matches on such days.
"We are playing our first international friendly against Palestine in Guwahati on February 6. After this we have a training camp for qualification for AFC Asian Cup 2015, but I am not sure where it would be held," he said.
Asked whether he had enough time to have his ideas on the national team, Koevermans said it was not possible to get the players together for seven weeks at a stretch, but any national coach in the world would want to spend more time with his players.
"However, we will get to spend a couple of week`s time before the AFC Challenge Cup and SAAF Cup. That is always better for a team," he said.