Interview of Coach Santosh Kashyap1-Aug, 2012
AFC 'A' license holder and FIFA Instructor, Santosh Kashyap, is the new Chief Coach of McDowell Mohun Bagan. Last year, he did a reasonably good job as the coach of Air India. Earlier, he was in charge of the Youth Team of Mahindra United and also worked as the Assistant Coach of the Mahindra United Senior team for a few seasons.
During his professional career as a player, he played for Mahindra United for nearly 15 years and was well known for his direct free-kicks. He was a very skillful player and had a good career as a playmaker. We had a chat with him after the conclusion of the residential preseason camp held in Durgapur.
MMB: How was the preseason residential camp?
Santosh Kashyap: I am very happy with the way the camp has progressed. The facilities in Durgapur were excellent, good gymnasium, good swimming pool, good food and accommodation. We were lucky that the weather also helped us. Few days, I wanted a bit of rain so that the players get to practice in slushy condition. Overall, I achieved my objective which I had set before the start of the camp.
MMB: What was your first reaction when you got the offer to be coach of McDowell Mohun Bagan?
Santosh Kashyap: I was extremely happy. It was my dream to be coach of a Kolkata team. As a player, I got offer to play in Kolkata but due to my job in Mahindra United, I did not come to play in Kolkata. Mohun Bagan gave me offer in 1988 while in the next season East Bengal wanted me in their team.
MMB: Did you miss 2-3 key players in the camp?
Santosh Kashyap: Odafa Okolie could not come because of some family problem. Even Rahim Nabi had to return back due to his wife's accident. Tolgay Ozbey missed the camp for few days. They are good players and they know their responsibility in the team. Apart from these players, all the others were present.
I mainly wanted a residential camp for team building, so that the players mix with each other and I have seen them gel very well with each other. The fitness of the team improved a lot during the camp. The most important thing is that the players enjoyed the training which I understood from their body language.
MMB: What do you have to say about the two foreign players, Anyichie Echezona and Stanley Okoroigwe?
Santosh Kashyap: They are good players and I am quite happy with them. Though they came late and joined the camp in the 2nd week, they have adapted nicely and their fitness level is good.
MMB: What will be your target this season?
Santosh Kashyap: We have a very good team with proper balance of experienced and junior players. Whatever I have learnt in my coaching career and the education that I have got during my 'A' licence course, I will implement those. The players will also try their best to win trophies this year. Mohun Bagan has got so many supporters and I am sure they will come in numbers to support us in the ground and will pray for us. Also the officials are always giving us good support. Hopefully, this will be a great season for Mohun Bagan and I am confident about this.
My main target this year will be to win the I-League.
MMB: Last year you were coaching a small budget team and suddenly you are in charge of a trophy oriented club. Do you feel any pressure?
Santosh Kashyap: Job of a coach is to deliver. If you perform, you will stay, otherwise you will be replaced. This is the way it happens everywhere in World Football. I am aware of that.
Last year in a low budget team like Air India, we did reasonably well. I think that's why I got the offer from McDowell Mohun Bagan officials.
Also, it is amazing to see so much passion involved in this club. I saw many lady supporters coming to see the practice sessions in Durgapur. I heard many supporters saying, "We don't want any trophies, but we will have to beat East Bengal", while others were saying, "No, winning tournament is more important." There are many well wishers of the club throughout the World, and I am extremely happy to be part of this club. I am really grateful to the officials for giving me the opportunity to be the Coach of the National Football Club of India.
MMB: You were the assistant coach of Mahindra for few years.
Santosh Kashyap: Yes, I worked as assistant coach under David Booth and Derrick Perreira. In that phase, Jose Barreto played for 1 season in Mahindra United.
You know, I have also played with Assistant Coach, Bernard, in Mahindra United.
MMB: The players seemed to enjoyed the variety in practice sessions.
Santosh Kashyap: Yes, I kept this in mind that the players should enjoy the training sessions. Asking the players to run 10 laps is very boring. Instead, one day I took BEEP test and made it a competitive one. I was able to find out the endurance capacity of the players and also the players tremendously enjoyed the session, and there was a competition amongst them to win it.
Of course, sometimes I had to push them a bit and that session would be a bit hectic. This would help them to increase their fitness level.
MMB: There are a lot of junior players in this year's team.
Santosh Kashyap: The junior players are very talented and one of my objectives is to groom them properly. Actually, I was in charge of the Youth Team of Mahindra United for almost 4 years and so I have the experience of nurturing young talent. Mahindra youth team won the Super Division League of Mumbai once and also twice finished runners up of the MUFC Cup.
Players like Shilton D'Silva, Collin Abranches and Roshan D'Souza are all product of Mahindra United Youth team. Also, Varin Mehta, until 2009, was part of the Mahindra United U-19 squad and also played in the U-19 I-League, but then he went for a trial in Belgium and got selected in Belgiumâ€™s Royal Antwerp FC.
MMB: As a player, in which position you used to play?
Santosh Kashyap: Both midfielder and striker. I was a free-kick specialist and scored many goals from direct free-kick. I never changed my team. I played only for Mahindra United, from 1986 to 1999. I was the Captain from 1993 to 1995.
MMB: Best year of your playing career?
Santosh Kashyap: 1993, that year we won the Rovers Cup and we lost to Mohun Bagan in the final of the Federation Cup.
MMB: Best goal of your career?
Santosh Kashyap: In Santosh Trophy, I scored a stunning goal against Kerala while playing for Maharashtra. I took the free-kick from about 35 yards out.
MMB: Best match of your career?
Santosh Kashyap: We won the Nizam Gold Cup in 1989. At that time, Mahindra had maximum junior players. With that team, we defeated JCT to lift the cup. I scored the winning goal from a direct free kick.
MMB: Best match against Mohun Bagan?
Santosh Kashyap: In 1986 Durand Cup, I scored a nice goal against Mohun Bagan, dribbling past 3 players. In 1990 Durand Cup, we beat Mohun Bagan 4-2 in the quarter final.
MMB: Which coaches do you look up to?
Santosh Kashyap: Alex Ferguson, Syed Nayeemuddin. Also I learnt a lot from Gabriel Joseph and Vincent Subramaniyam.
MMB: Where did you do your AFC licence course?
Santosh Kashyap: I did my 'C' licence in Mumbai, the AFC 'B' licence course in Bangalore and completed my AFC 'A' licence course in Jamshedpur.
MMB: What were your strengths as a player?
Santosh Kashyap: Shooting, mainly direct free kick and giving through passes. I enjoyed the role of a playmaker in the team.
MMB: In this year's McDowell Mohun Bagan team, which players you think can be a good playmaker?
Santosh Kashyap: There are many good midfielders in the team. I think Jewel Raja and Denson Devdas have the ability to send good through passes along with few other players.
MMB: Are you aware of the pressure of Kolkata football? Do you have any message for the fans?
Santosh Kashyap: Come and give us your support. Every player loves to play in front of huge number of supporters, but they must respect the players and understand that all the players always wants to give their best for the team, so the fans should always keep supporting, both in good and bad times.
Also, the players should also give their best to their ability and try to make the fans happy.
MMB: Best of luck for the season.
Santosh Kashyap: Thank you.
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