AIFF Media Release
NEW DELHI: Clifford Miranda has been a busy man recently, maybe even more so than in his playing days. The 2022-23 season has been one of reaping the benefits of said hard work – in April, he became the first Indian head coach to lift a major trophy with an Indian Super League side after he was trusted to lead Odisha FC for the Super Cup.
Following his Super Cup win, Miranda was named the AIFF Men’s Coach Of The Year in July, and within a month, he was appointed head coach of the India U-23 National Team. His first task with the national side is the upcoming AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers. The-aiff.com caught up with the man of the hour to talk about his recent success and his thoughts on the upcoming challenge.
“Nothing is more satisfying than the federation recognising the work that we have been doing,” said Miranda when asked about the Coach of The Year Award and his recent appointment with the national side. “The work, my philosophy, and ethics were appreciated by the players at Odisha FC first and then the rest of the Indian Football fraternity. But it is done and dusted now. I need to look forward and keep improving myself and everyone I work with. I am very thankful to the AIFF for believing in me and trusting me with the U-23 side, which is just one level below the senior national team.”
The 41-year-old has been one of the key players in the heart of the Blue Tigers midfield, back in his younger days, but is now seemingly thriving under completely different conditions as a coach.
“Playing is a lot of hard work and sacrifice, being a coach is tougher since we need to balance so many things – the staff, the players, and managing everyone and trying to keep everyone happy. Also, as a player, the matters are in your own hands, and you can make a difference in the game. As a coach, we are totally dependent on the players, all I can do is guide my players and have complete trust in them to get the job done.”
The coach, who comes from Goa, is also expecting some differences in coaching a national team as compared to working with a club.
“We will get the players for a very short time where we need to have them learn our philosophies and adapt to our style of play. These young boys are professionals, though, and I am sure they will adapt to me and I will adapt to them in a way that we can play good football and qualify for AFC U-23 Asian Cup,” said Miranda.
Miranda has gained his coaching experience one step at a time, having coached the FC Goa Reserves, before becoming their assistant coach in the ISL, following which he made the lateral move to Odisha FC, before taking over in Bhubaneswar as the head coach for the Super Cup. Miranda has developed his own philosophy of coaching over the years and summed it up in two words – adaptability and intensity.
“I like to keep progressive possession, not possession for the sake of it. We can have a direct approach to our build-up or play out of the back, depending on the opponents at hand and the personnel available in our team. We need to adapt to in-game situations and always have alternate plans,” said Miranda. “I also want my boys to play with a certain level of intensity both on and off the ball. While going forward with the ball, pressing our opponents, or going in zones to deny space while defending, the intensity always needs to be there.”
Having played at the highest level himself, Miranda believes getting involved in coaching helped him understand the game a lot better.
“Fathers often tell their sons that they will only understand what it means to be a father when they become one. Coaching is much like that. There is so much more to the game that I picked up only when I started doing my coaching licenses,” said Miranda. “Back then I was still playing and it helped me know more about my game and understand football much better. I think it made me a better player and would recommend younger players to go for these coaching licenses even if they don’t plan on coaching in the future. It will help them develop their game a lot more.”
Miranda also relies on his playing experience when it comes to knowing the role a coach plays in building up a player’s confidence. “I remember when I had broken my shin bone in four places and the doctors were telling me I might not play again, Bob Houghton who was the national team head coach at the time, visited me in the hospital and told me that he would include me in the national camp to be held in six months’ time. That was the only thing that gave me confidence and got me through the rehab process. He also made sure I got all the help I needed to get back on the pitch.”
Mirianda’s most immediate task will be to take charge of the India U-23s, who have been pitted in Group G of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers, against the likes of UAE, Maldives, and hosts China, with the matches set to take place between September 6 to 12. While preparing for the overall picture, Miranda laid special emphasis on beginning the campaign with a win.
“We have three very good teams in our group, but the first game of any tournament is always the most important. UAE are a tough side and playing China PR in their home is not going to be easy, but I am not thinking beyond the first game against the Maldives,” said Miranda. “Of course, we will keep all teams in mind during our preparations, but I am focused on winning the opening game.”The Head Coach also mentioned that he is very well informed on all the players he has called for the camp leading up to the tournament. He said, “I have seen them all play and I have also worked with a few of the players in Goa and Odisha. I know all the players and I have a lot of faith in them. We need to get them in camp, plan as one unit, and work as one unit. It won’t be easy and we will be facing some big opponents, we need to get our combinations and tactics right.”
PC – AIFF