Despite courting controversy after bypassing the committee tasked with recommending a coach for the Indian Under-17 team, the All India Football Federation on Friday asked all members of the panel to meet Portuguese Luis Norton de Matos, deemed by the national governing body as the “number one choice” for the job, PTI reported.

“All the advisory committee members have now been told to meet Luis Norton,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said on Friday. The Portuguese is expected to be in India on February 28.
The advisory committee was constituted to recommend the Indian team’s head coach for the 2017 Fifa U-17 World Cup, which will be held in India in October.

Indian football legends Baichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan, former India international Abhishek Yadav, who is also the chief operating officer of the U-17 team, and AIFF Technical Director Savio Madiera were among the members of the special committee to shortlist the coach. Other members are Das and Kishore Taid, Head of Operations and Strategy of the AIFF.

De Matos, a former Portugal international and ex-coach of Benfica’s reserve side, as well of the Guinea-Bissau national team, was declared by the AIFF as its “number one choice” from among the shortlisted candidates. He is expected to meet Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas and AIFF President Praful Patel on February 28 to chalk out his contract details, the report stated.

A member of the advisory committee had alleged that the AIFF did not consult the panel before naming de Matos as the number-one choice. Defending the AIFF’s decision, Das said, “It’s an advisory committee, not a selection committee. We identified 7-8 candidates and we were asked to do Skype interviews. The interviews were done by me, Kishore and Abhishek. After the interviews, we identified Luis Norton de Matos as the most suitable candidate to come for the interview in India with the sports secretary and the AIFF president.”

The AIFF had parted ways with previous coach Nicolai Adam after members of the U-17 team complained about the German’s abusive behaviour.