15 of 20 Afghanistan players play abroad, reveals Afghanistan coach Peter Segrt

Afghanistan Coach Peter Segrt with Stephen ConstantineTRIVANDRUM: The New Year began on the perfect note when the Indian and the Afghanistan contingents wished each other at the restaurant in the Team Hotel prior to the Breakfast. There’s no denying that Afghanistan have been the most impressive and “strongest” Team in the SAFF Suzuki Cup so far.

A couple of days prior to the final against India, Afghanistan Coach Mr. Peter Segrt spoke exclusively to www.the-aiff.com about the present Afghanistan squad, his vision for Afghanistan Football, the Players who are from Europe and USA, and much more. EXCERPTS:

You were linked to be the U-21 Coach of Germany. Why did you opt for Afghanistan?

It was interesting to get the offer. I wanted to work as a National Coach and it’s not often that you get it. Having said that, I am fully aware of the situation in Afghanistan and that, the Country is going through a difficult time. But I believe I can bring Afghanistan to a higher level.

Are your Players all from Afghanistan?

Despite the situation back in Afghanistan most of the Players are lucky to play in Germany, Denmark, USA, Bahrain, Malaysia, etc, to hone their skills. Most of them have Dual Passport. There are over 3 million Afghan people living in Iran alone and there are a huge number of people in Pakistan and even India. It’s unbelievable when you have 30 million people watching your matches.
Off the list of 20 which we have registered in the SAFF Suzuki Cup, 5 come from Afghanistan while the rest of the 15 Players stay and play outside Afghanistan.

So is this a new batch which you have scouted?

After the triumph in the 2013 SAFF Championship seven Players quit and we lost some key Players. To fill in the void, we had to look but I am also looking for Players from Afghanistan to settle down in the squad.

We heard that the some of the boys went to Kabul for the first time ever before proceeding for the SAFF Suzuki Cup.

Yeah. Though some of the Players are from Kabul, some of them had never been there before. To bring in a sense of unification I assembled all the Players in Kabul and we started our journey from Kabul and made all Players drop into the Country.

But even as we were doing a photo shoot and had slated a Press Conference, there was a bomb attack in the vicinity and I was very scared for the Players. We proceeded to Doha for seven days for a Preparatory Camp from where we landed in Trivandrum.

What stay your future plans?

I hope I can bring Afghanistan to a higher level. They are very proud people and have a strong character. They never give up. They like to learn and I want to make changes, and fast.

As a Coach you need to understand and respect the culture of the Country you are working in. I am presently staying in Afghanistan in an effort to create a new situation where I can bring in some hope. I feel any National Coach needs to reside in the Country he is contracted with.

By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team