Kozhikode: Vincenzo Alberto Annese, the new head coach of I-League side Gokulam Kerala FC, can easily be mistaken for a player.
The 36-year-old has a charismatic and rough look about him. His long flowing locks would remind football fans of Argentinian football legend Gabriel Batistuta.
The Italian, who left his position as the coach of the Belize national team to replace Fernando Santiago Varela for the Malabarians, arrived in Kozhikode the other day. After completing the obligatory 14-day quarantine period, he will join the squad which is currently undergoing pre-season training at the EMS Corporation Stadium.
Vincenzo spoke to Manorama on what prompted him to take up coaching at a young age, his ambitions for the season and more.
The I-League begins in January. Do you think there is enough time for preparation?
We have conducted a month-long online training programme. All the players have attended it. The squad started training outdoors last week. It is always good to have more time to prepare. Anyway, all the teams are in the same boat. We are looking to make the most of the time available. I have full trust in all my players.
What are your expectations and goals for the season? Have you finalised the game plan?
We have a bunch of players who are hungry for success. I'm not here on a fun trip. I came to India with specific goals and I want to achieve them. If I manage to lead the team to success, I will be able to carve out a niche for myself as a coach as well. That's also important. I will have to analyse each player and understand their strengths and weaknesses before putting together a game plan. Ultimately, it is players on the pitch who make decisions and execute the game plan. I focus on outcome, not output.
Are there plans to play pre-season friendly matches or tournaments?
Gokulam will be taking part in the IFA Shield scheduled to be held in Kolkata next month.
You have played in Serie A (Italian first division league). What prompted you to quit playing and take up coaching at the age of 26?
I retired from playing due to a persistent injury. I switched to coaching after realising that the injury could curtail my career. Thankfully, it proved to be a good decision. Before coming to India, I have had coaching stints in Latvia, Estonia, China, and Ghana (besides Belize).