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Coaches who made it to ISL final in their debut season

Published at :May 4, 2024 at 5:47 PM
Modified at :May 4, 2024 at 6:00 PM
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Bishal Deb

A total of 11 coaches appeared in the ISL final in their debut campaign.

The Indian Super League (ISL), India’s premier professional football league, has witnessed a multitude of high-profile coaches vying for its coveted trophy since its inception in 2014. Renowned names like Teddy Sheringham, Zico, Robbie Keane, David James and many more have graced its touchlines over the years.

Among them, Antonio Lopez Habas stands as the most successful, boasting two ISL trophies to his name. Khalid Jamil notably became the first Indian head coach of an ISL club in 2021, when NorthEast United FC appointed him. With each passing season, the quest for glory intensifies, and the stage is now set for both Petr Kratky and Antonio Lopez Habas to etch their names into ISL history books when they face off in the ISL final on 4 May. 

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the coaches who led their teams to the ISL final in their debut season.

Antonio Lopez Habas (Atletico de Kolkata, 2014)

In the inaugural ISL season, Habas showcased his tactical prowess as he led Atletico de Kolkata to the playoffs. Finishing third in the league phase, his side clinched victory over FC Goa in the semi-finals and secured a narrow 1-0 win against Kerala Blasters in the final.

David James (Kerala Blasters FC, 2014)

As a player-cum-manager, former England international David James steered Kerala Blasters FC to the playoffs in the inaugural season. After a fourth-place finish in the league phase, Kerala Blasters advanced to the final, where they narrowly lost 0-1 to Atletico de Kolkata.

Jose Molina (ATK, 2016)

Molina succeeded Habas as head coach of Kolkata in the 2016 season. Despite finishing fourth in the league stage, his tactical acumen propelled the side into the final. They clinched victory in a dramatic penalty shootout against Kerala Blasters to secure their second ISL title.

Steve Coppell (Kerala Blasters FC, 2016)

Coppell’s appointment as manager of Kerala Blasters FC in the 2016 season marked a turnaround for the team. Despite a challenging previous season, Coppell guided Kerala Blasters to the finals, where they lost 3-4 to Kolkata in the penalties.

Albert Roca (Bengaluru FC, 2017-18)

Roca’s debut season with Bengaluru FC in the 2017-18 ISL saw the team finish comfortably at the top of the standings in the league phase. After a strong playoff campaign, Bengaluru FC suffered a narrow 2-3 defeat to Chennaiyin FC in the final.

John Gregory (Chennaiyin FC, 2017-18)

Gregory’s tenure with Chennaiyin FC in the 2017-18 season helped the team secure a formidable second-place finish in the league stage. Under his guidance, Chennaiyin FC clinched the title in a dramatic final by a 3-2 scoreline.

Carles Cuadrat (Bengaluru FC, 2018-19)

Following Albert Roca’s departure, Cuadrat led Bengaluru FC to their maiden ISL title in his debut season as head coach. With a first-place finish in the league phase, Bengaluru FC continued their dominant form in the playoffs, culminating in a memorable 1-0 victory over Goa in the final.

Owen Coyle (Chennaiyin FC, 2019-20)

Coyle’s arrival mid-season sparked a remarkable turnaround for Chennaiyin FC as they secured a fourth-place finish and qualification for the knockouts. Despite falling short in the final, Coyle’s impact was evident in the team’s resurgence.

Ivan Vukomanovic (Kerala Blasters FC, 2021-22)

Under Vukomanovic’s leadership, Kerala Blasters FC enjoyed a successful campaign, finishing fourth in the league stage and securing a spot in the playoffs. Despite reaching the final, Kerala Blasters FC suffered a heartbreaking 3-1 defeat to Hyderabad FC in the penalty shootout.

Simon Grayson (Bengaluru FC, 2022-23)

Despite a challenging start, Grayson guided Bengaluru FC to a fourth-place finish in the league phase. In the final, Bengaluru FC narrowly lost to ATK Mohun Bagan in penalties by a 3-4 scoreline.

Petr Kratky (Mumbai City FC, 2023-24)

Kratky swiftly made his mark as head coach of Mumbai City FC, guiding the team to a second-place finish in the regular season, narrowly missing out on the ISL Shield on the last matchday. Mumbai City FC now prepare to face Mohun Bagan in the upcoming final on 4 May.

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