Some of these tacticians went on take up top positions at certain elite teams.
Over the six-year history of the Indian Super League (ISL), we have witnessed a number of coaches demonstrate their abilities and use the league as a springboard to go on to attain bigger jobs elsewhere. It speaks a great deal about the development of the league and the increase in quality as well as standards both on and off the field.
On that note, let’s take a look at five coaches who bagged top projects after their stints in the ISL.
Miguel Angel Portugal
Following his time at Delhi Dynamos in 2017-18, Miguel Angel Portugal was appointed as the head coach at Spanish side Granada CF until the end of that season. He returned back to coach FC Pune City ahead of the 2018-19 campaign before joining Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. After leaving the club by mutual consent, the Spaniard remained in the country by taking charge of another Bolivian team Royal Pari, where he had a fairly decent track record.
Josep Gombau was brought in as the replacement for Miguel Angel Portugal at the helm of erstwhile Delhi Dynamos in 2018. Despite failing to make it to the playoffs, he was retained as the coach for the 2019-20 campaign by the rebranded club Odisha FC. At the end of the latest edition of the ISL, Gombau left the Indian outfit due to his familial obligations before completing a big move to US club Queensboro FC, becoming their first-ever head coach as well as sporting director.
Back in 2014, FC Goa had roped in Brazilian legend Zico as their head coach for the first season of the Indian Super League. He spent three years at Goa, helping them reach the semis in 2014 and the final in the following campaign. After a disastrous third campaign, where they shockingly finished in last place, the club ended up parting ways with Zico.
The 67-year-old is currently working as the technical director of Japanese club Kashima Antlers. This is his second stint at the club after previously serving as a director. His side even squared up against Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup in 2018, with Gareth Bale notching a hat-trick in that clash to knock the Japanese club out of the competition.
4. Rene Meulensteen
Former Manchester United first-team coach Rene Meulensteen had joined Kerala Blasters prior to the start of the 2017-18 ISL campaign. But, the Dutchman was sacked midway through that season due to an unsatisfactory run of results.
He proceeded to become the assistant coach of the Australian national team in 2018, teaming up with head coach Graham Arnold. Under the management of the duo, the side haven’t lost a single game so far in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, winning each of their four matches.
3. Cesar Farias
Given NorthEast United had finished rock-bottom in the inaugural edition of the ISL, Cesar Farias did a pretty remarkable job when he nearly led the side to the playoffs in 2015. He went on to manage Paraguayan club Cerra Porteno and Bolivian side The Strongest. Later, Farias was appointed as the caretaker manager of the Bolivian national team in 2018, before returning shortly after to coach the Strongest.
After a disappointing 2019 Copa America campaign, he was handed the permanent reigns of the Bolivia national team and the U-23 side. So far, Farias looks like a great fit with his team putting in some promising performances in the 2020 CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament, including two incredible wins over Uruguay and Peru.
2. Jose Molina
Jose Molina helped ATK win the ISL title in 2016, which was their second triumph in the country’s top flight. After a successful stint at the Kolkata-based club, he went on to take charge of Mexican second division team Atletico San Luis.
Following a terrible run of results that saw his side placed at the bottom of the table, he was shown the door by the Mexican outfit. In any case, Molina took over the role of the sporting director of the Spanish Football Federation in 2018 from Fernando Hierro, who left the post after Spain’s poor showing at the 2018 World Cup.
1. Albert Roca
Albert Roca is held in high regard in Indian football. After taking over the coaching duties at Bengaluru FC in 2016, the Spaniard guided them to the final of the AFC Cup, making history by becoming the first Indian team to achieve the feat. Later, he helped the club reach the final of the Indian Super League, but unfortunately yet again ended up on the losing side.
After a poor debut season in the ISL, Hyderabad FC brought in Roca on a two-year contract ahead of the upcoming campaign. However, when newly-appointed manager Ronald Koeman asked him to be a part of his coaching staff at FC Barcelona, it was clearly too big an opportunity for Roca to turn down. Consequently, the 57-year-old amicably parted ways with the ISL outfit to join Barcelona as a fitness coach.