These men could also do a good job in the Indian top flight.
The I-League is already midway through its proceedings. As per the points table, Gokulam Kerala lead the way, with 30 points. They are followed by Mohammedan SC, who have 26 points in their bag. The way in which the I-League clubs of the upper half of the table are playing is raising the expectations of seeing a few coaches make a shift from the second tier to the Indian Super League (ISL).
In this article, we will share a list of five coaches who could move to the ISL from the I-League. The criteria for selection have been their clubs’ ongoing form and their personal qualifications (coaching license).
5. Antonio Rueda
We start the list with Antonio Rueda. He is a newcomer to Indian football. In February 2022, he was signed by Churchill Brothers for the ongoing 2021/22 I-League season. He started his trade in India on 1st April, against NEROCA, a match which the Goan outfit won 4-2.
Under his tutelage, the team are on a four-match unbeaten streak. Being a young coach, he may fit in at a team like NorthEast United.
4. Andrey Chernyshov
The Mohammedan SC tactician came to India in June 2021. Andrey Chernyshov, who was previously the assistant coach of Russia, took the Black Panthers to the final of the Durand Cup. Under his mentorship, Mohammedan finally won the Calcutta Football League after 40 years.
Currently, Chernyshov’s side are second in the I-League with 26 points in 12 matches. Hopefully, if Mohammedan SC get a chance to participate in the Indian Super League in the years to come, the Russian manager will be expected to continue at the helm.
3. Santiago Varela
Santiago Varela first came to India in March, 2018 when Gokulam Kerala appointed him as their head coach. He won the Kerala Premier League that year. Later in 2019/20, when he was reappointed by the Malabarians, he came in and won them the Durand Cup. The club also managed a sixth-place finish in the I-League that season. The following season saw Varela joining Churchill Brothers. In the 2021 edition of the I-League, under his tutelage, Churchill had a second-place finish in the table and lost the title to Gokulam Kerala only on goal-difference.
Varela knows the Indian football vertical like the back of his palm. Infact, the tactician was reported to be linked with East Bengal in 2020, while the club were preparing to play in the ISL. As many clubs in the ISL are yet to appoint their coaches, it would be a great time for them to have a look at the feats of the 48-year-old.
2. Vincenzo Alberto Annese
In 2020, after Gokulam Kerala parted ways with Santiago Varela, they brought in a young coach at the helm. Vincenzo Alberto Annese has already won the I-League with Gokulam last season. At the moment, the Malabarians are hot favourites to win the league once again, as they are sitting on top of the table with 30 points in 12 games. Notably, Annese’s team are yet to lose a game in the I-League this season.
The 37-year-old, who has previously managed the Belize national team (FIFA Ranking 173), is one of the favourite candidates to manage an ISL club. As per his team’s charismatics, it won’t be surprising if an ISL club approaches him. But, Gokulam Kerala too, would be hesitant to part ways with his services.
1. Ashley Westwood
Ashley Westwood is the oldest face in the list. The manager joined Bengaluru FC at its inception in 2013 and guided the side till 2016. During his stay, he won the I-League twice in 2013/14 and 2015/16. During the 2014/15 season, Bengaluru FC also managed to win the Federation Cup. The 45-year-old spent only a season in the ISL. In 2017, he was appointed as the technical director of ATK, where he later took over as the caretaker manager in January, 2018. The team didn’t get any success and ended ninth among the 10 teams in the league.
Last year, he came back to India to join RoundGlass Punjab as their head coach. However, in March, 2022, Westwood and the club parted ways. For any club that wants to achieve success, Westwood might be the perfect option. He hasn’t received the opportunity to be a full-time manager at an ISL club, but surely possesses the credentials for success.