These tacticians have had successful stints with Indian football and are currently without a job.

Ever since the inception of the Indian Super League (ISL), we have witnessed numerous coaches plying their trade in India. Some have been successful whereas others have left with disappointment. Some have won accolades, while others have won hearts and some have been criticized. If we look at the upcoming season, most of the clubs are expected to see a change at the helm.

FC Goa have already secured the services of ex-player Carlos Pena. On the other hand, Odisha FC will also be finalizing their head coach in due time. Notably, NorthEast United, East Bengal, Jamshedpur FC and Chennaiyin FC are in search of new tacticians. Even Bengaluru FC may part ways with Marco Pezzaiuoli and bring in someone new at the helm.

Amidst all this, let’s have a look at the top five coaches who have previously managed different ISL sides and whom the clubs should target to guide them in the upcoming season.

5. Ranko Popovic

The list starts with Ranko Popovic who had previously managed Pune City back in 2017/18. The Serb took Pune to the playoffs, where the club ended their season after losing out to Bengaluru FC. The statistics of the Stallions shone bright as they secured 30 points in 18 matches in the group stage. They won nine games, drew thrice and lost six times.

Popovic is currently serving as the manager at Japanese second tier club Machida Zelvia. The UEFA Pro License holder has a contract at the club till January 2023. Apparently, Popovic managed the club in 2011/12 as well. Machida Zelvia are doing well under his tutelage, as they are currently second in the table with 18 points in 10 matches.

4. Eelco Schattorie

WATCH: Eelco Schattorie’s exclusive conversation with Khel Now

Eelco Schattorie had been a part of Indian football ever since 2012 when he joined United SC (Prayag United) in the I-League. He has the experience of managing Kolkata giants East Bengal too. In the ISL, he was first in-charge of NorthEast United, whom he guided to the playoffs (2018/19) for the first time since the inception of both the club and the league.

The club ended their campaign in fourth place that season. In the following campaign, he took charge of Kerala Blasters. But, this time the tactics didn’t work out. Kerala Blasters ended their campaign in the seventh position and won only four of the 18 group stage fixtures.

Despite his failure at Kerala Blasters, it can be firmly said that Schattorie is a coach with a vision. A club like East Bengal who have been in a state of dilemma for the past few seasons will find a perfect maestro in him. The 50-year-old Dutchman, who is currently without a club, knows how to build a team and will be effective for the Kolkata giants. Even NorthEast United can bag his services, as he is perhaps one of the most successful coaches in the Highlanders’ history in the ISL .

3. Carles Cuadrat

WATCH: Carles Cuadrat speaks on his stint in Indian football

Carles Cuadrat served Bengaluru FC for a long period since 2018 to 2021. Prior to that, he was the assistant manager at the club. It was under his tutelage that Bengaluru won their first Indian Super League title.

The 53-year-old enjoyed a brief stint at Cyprus-based Aris Limassol FC. As per sources, Cuadrat has offers from a few clubs in the ISL. The tactician is yet to take a decision regarding his future.

2. Albert Roca

Albert Roca is one of the most prominent coaches in ISL history. In 2016/17, he got associated to Bengaluru FC. Under his tutelage, the Blues reached the AFC Cup final. After the club got entry into the ISL, the management kept faith with Roca. Bengaluru ended their group stage as table-toppers with 40 points in 18 games, eight points clear of second-placed Chennaiyin FC.

Such an extraordinary feat has been achieved by very few new ISL new entrants. However, unfortunately, Bengaluru FC lost in the final to Chennaiyin and missed out on the title. At Hyderabad FC, Roca acted as an advisor from January to July 2020. In August, 2020, he was announced as Hyderabad FC’s new head coach, but he served only for a few weeks.

Albert Roca left Hyderabad FC to join FC Barcelona as the fitness coach under Ronald Koeman and later Sergi Barjuan. In November 2021, after Xavi’s introduction as the new manager, Roca parted ways with the club. He is currently not associated with any club and might be an ideal fit for any ISL team who want to build a successful squad for the upcoming seasons.

1. Antonio Lopez Habas

Antonio Lopez Habas is undoubtedly one of the most successful coaches of the ISL. He has two ISL trophies to his name, both of which he won with ATK in 2014 and 2019/20. The Spaniard took ATK Mohun Bagan into the final in 2020/21, but lost 2-1 to Mumbai City. Even in the AFC Cup, ATK Mohun Bagan faired well, only to lose 6-0 at the hands of FC Nassaf in the Inter-zonal semi-finals. In December, 2021, he parted ways with ATKMB after the club were going through a tough phase in the ISL.

The 64-year-old is currently not associated to any club. Habas knows Indian football like the back of his palm. But, a disadvantage may be that he lacks the flair and reputation to nurture young talents. Undoubtedly, he is a tactical mastermind. But, if a club offers him an inexperienced side, the success maybe doubtful.

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