Interview with I-League’s most successful coach Armando Colaco on his 60th birthday: “No retirement plans just yet”
Armando Colaco spent almost a quarter of his lifetime being the head coach of Dempo Sports Club and established the Goan club as the most successful team in the Indian domestic league, winning five league titles in 13 seasons. He also took the Panjim-based club to the semi-finals of the AFC Cup, something which no other Indian club has done yet.
The former Dempo player, who also coached Churchill Brothers and the Indian national team, ended his association with Dempo, where he also served as the general secretary, last month.
The legendary coach turned 60 on Saturday but still has no plans of retiring just yet. Sportskeeda caught up with Armando on his birthday for an exclusive chat.
How much has your life changed since the end of your tenure at Dempo?
Everything in life comes to an end. I had a good era at Dempo and I am proud of my achievements there. You can’t go on forever so it eventually ended but the most important thing now is that I am spending a lot of quality time with my family and being able to look after my health better.
Did you leave behind any unfinished business at Dempo?
I wanted to win another league title. Last time when we won, I requested the chairman to keep the same team as I was hoping for one more league success but that didn’t happen due to certain circumstances especially injuries.
Any regrets about not winning the AFC Cup?
No, I have no regrets about the AFC Cup as it is such a tough tournament to win. We somehow managed to reach the semis there and even played in the Champions League playoffs and that was one of the proudest moments. We only narrowly lost to Al Sadd (Qatar) and later that year they went on to become the third best team of the world. So looking back, I think we did a good job there.
But you reached the semi-finals in 2008, so do you think with more investments and by retaining the key players it would have been possible to win the competition?
Every year it changes and every season there are new challenges. See, for a long time we managed to keep the same squad together but slowly one by one they started leaving so it became difficult and the average age (of the squad) also started to become a factor. This year is a transition period and I wish the new coach and the current squad all the very best.
How do you look back to your stint as the India’s head coach?
Although it was four months, it was a great and interesting experience. Players gave everything for me. I wanted a longer stint but unfortunately that didn’t happen and maybe in future I will get another chance.
Do you think Indian football has progressed in the last 13 years?
Where are the academies? Where is the coach education? Everyone wants us to play in the World Cup. But the way it’s going we will only play the World Cup if we host it. All the money should be used in youth development and grassroots programme otherwise Indian football will never improve.