Celebrated Latvian coach, Igors Nauris Stepanovs has been appointed as the coach to the Maldives national U-19 football team.
Stepanovs played for the Arsenal team during 2003’s English Premier League, when the team emerged champions without losing a single match.
The Latvian coach was appointed during a press conference held at the Football Association of the Maldives (FAM) house on Wednesday.
Following his appointment, Stepanovs asserted that he did not take over the position “for the money”.
Highlighting that he is taking on the responsibilities he has been tasked with since his appointment with keen interest, Stepanovs stated that he is doing the job because he has always been enthusiastic in the field.
It’s a launcher program where we can develop and improve Maldivian football. Basically it’s not about the money, its about the players to get them better because our country, where I came from is also small. So I got quite experience and hopefully with my experience I can help Maldivian players to improve. It’s not a short-term program, hopefully for years and we can see the improvement of Maldivian football basically.”
Also speaking at the press conference, FAM President Bassam Adeel Jaleel stated that a European coach has been appointed to the young team, with the purpose of introducing the opportunity for the players to learn more skills and experience a new approach to training, adding that it will benefit local coaches as well.
Further, Bassam highlighted that the association aims to bring in another foreign coach for the U-16 national football team before the end of the ongoing year as well.
This is the first time a foreign coach has been appointed to coach the U-19 team, with Ahmed Nashid having served as the most recent coach. Under Nashid’s proficient training, the young team was able to contest in the Second Division football tournament for the first time.
Before Nashid, the team was coached by Mohamed Shaazlee, under whose instructions and training, the team bagged bronze in the SAFF Championship during 2019.