Free Press Journal

Indian footballers improving in pitch coverage: fitness coach



Thiruvananthapuram: National football team fitness and conditioning coach Danny Deigan feels that the Indians have improved their pitch coverage during matches but
still they are far short of world standards. Deigan, an Australian sports scientist who joined the national team this year, said that reaching upto the world standards will take time and the it will have to start at the club level.

“The gap between football at the domestic level and the international level is huge and for us the biggest challenge is to bridge the gap. It can never be bridged within a span of 10 days. For that, it needs to begin at the clubs,” Deigan was quoted as saying by the official AIFF website.

“It’s up to us to guide the players to understand, gauge and do that extra part to keep themselves going at the level if we are to attain world standards,” he said.

“I have a data of over 200 lines on the team and each individual and how it relates to everything — right from the risks of injury which they can suffer to their performances,the improvements and even the downward curve which is never encouraging. All these are variables which are the key to
Stephen Constantine’s game plan,” he added.

He said according to statistics collected from the last two editions of the World Cup to games involving top club sides in La Liga, Bundesliga, the EPL and other Premier
Leagues, a distance of 10-12 kms is to be covered by a player depending on his position.”A wing back as per World standards cover 10400 meters in a match; a central defender 9650 meters; a midfielder 11200  meters and a forward 10400 meters,” Deigan said.

Comparing that piece of statistics with the Indian players, he said, “In the match against Iran in Bengaluru, where we used the GPS for first time, our wing backs covered a distance of 9507 meters; Central Defenders 9100 meters; Midfielders 10872 Meters and the Forwards 10137 meters.”

“In our last match against Nepal in the SAFF Suzuki Cup, the wing backs covered 10476 meters, central defenders 9435 meters; midfielders 11298 meters while the forwards 10600 meters,” he said.

Asked if the Indian players were close to international standards, Deigan said, “You understand its improving. But in some matches, you also need to understand it is strongly influenced by team tactics and the opposition, and can even be influenced by poor positioning of the player and the distance he needs to cover as a result of that.

“You need to take into consideration distances covered by a player as a high speed, over 14km per hour. That’s a big part of where we need to improve if we are to go forward.” “The best way to improve is to work at high speed and the training has to be conducted at high intensity.”