What tips do you give to DDFC defenders as a former defender?
Along with assistant coach, Simone Barone, we work on the whole team - both offensive and defensive. We don’t prioritise any department, as it is important for a team to excel in every department.
How would you describe the ISL rivalry with your Italian teammate Marco Materazzi? Do your ideologies match because you come from the same country?
Actually it’s good to see three Italian World Cup champions on the bench – on one side there’s Materazzi and the other side there’s Simone and myself. For me, it’s nice to see two different team being coached by Italians which goes on to show that Italy is doing well in the field of coaching. About the similarity in ideologies, it’s a no. We have different methods, different training ideologies and contrasting philosophies.
Pick the best Indian player from your squad.
I am very happy about the Indian players and they are all important to the squad. But if you want me to pick names, I can say that some of them grow very well like Anas, Souvik, Milan, Lalchhawnkima and Sana.
Souvik, despite playing as defender, has a wonderful attacking instinct much like yourself. So how do you use him considering his range?
I am aware of Souvik’s tactical position and his position last year. But I am very happy that Souvik has shown that he can play as a midfielder and also on both lateral sides, which gives a coach good tactical options.
Which position did you like to play during your playing days?
I enjoyed playing both as a right and left back and fortunately, I became a World Cup champion playing there so that made me happy.
You’ve played against Ronaldo and with Messi, so how do you see their evolution in all these years?
Messi was very young when I played alongside him. He had just started but of course, like we see on Friday, back then he had a lot of potential. Ronaldo was older and was very good. Of course, now they have gone on to achieve heights.
How difficult is it to setup a team and its philosophy in a mere span of 3-4 months that ISL provides?
It’s not at all easy to setup a tactical philosophy in such a short time. Also, there’s no time to prepare for the games and recover properly because of the travel time. Then, you have to manage injuries as well. So it’s a very hard job. So if possible, it will be good if a month is added to the tournament so as to manage everything.
Anas recently made a very important goal-line clearance and you did the same in the World Cup. How much concentration and positioning matters in these situations?
It’s no luck. We have to know where to be at what time. The defenders’ job is not to let the opposition hit the back of the net.
How do you plan to take the campaign forward from here?
We have to continue with the same line and keep winning. But I am very positive because even during the draws and the one loss, the team did create a lot of opportunities and played well. I was never worried because as long as the team create chances, it’s only a matter of time that they begin to reap its rewards.
Lastly, what the secret of behind the long-playing life of the Italians?
You have to take care of your body and keep it good. You have to have a good diet and give enough time to your body to recover well. You have to be very professional and that enables you to play longer.