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Exclusive: ISL clubs can appoint Indian head coaches

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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The said candidates will have to fulfil certain standard criteria to get the top job at a club.

Earlier this week, Bengaluru FC announced the appointment of Carles Cuadrat as their new head coach. Cuadrat had previously worked for the Garden City club in the capacity of an assistant coach, under fellow Spaniard Albert Roca. The arrival of Cuadrat also marks a new beginning for the league on the whole. At the onset of the fifth edition, clubs will be able to appoint Indian head coaches and this comes after a change in the rules.

After four seasons of rigidness in terms of who flanks the touchlines, the ISL management has now opened its arms to more substance than a story. It is a well-known fact that the IMG-Reliance managed league had a policy favouring marquee foreign managers (players as well), who were either internationally-famed players, or foreigners with credible CVs.

With Cuadrat’s arrival, the ISL has announced its flexibility in terms of managerial appointments. Cuadrat, as a case of reference, has never been a head coach in his entire career. The Spaniard worked as an assistant manager here at Bengaluru and that has worked in his favour. Parallely, ISL clubs can now appoint Indian managers, if the candidates have served as assistant managers for at least a season and have the AFC A or Pro-License or its equivalent.

The ISL also expects these managers to have a strong record during their stints as assistant managers. Preferably, the candidate should’ve spent time in India and assistant managers already at ISL clubs will have a little edge. On reflection, the top names that crop up are those of Thangboi Singto, Derrick Pereira and Syed Sabir Pasha.

The Famous batch of Indian Coaches who did AFC Pro License under India's former manager Wim Koevermans (© Thangboi Singto)

Standing ( From L to R): Mariano Dias ( Goa ), Khalid Jamil( Maharashtra ), Stanly Rozario (Karnataka ), Hilal Parray Rasool ( J&K ), Farooq C ( Maharashtra ), Scott O ( Australia ), Wim Koevermans - Instructor ( Netherlands). 

Front (From L to R): Arthur Papas ( Australia ), Kunhikrishnan ( Kerala), Thangboi Singto, Santosh Kashyap, Samuel Geevarghese( Kerala )


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At Kerala Blasters, FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC respectively, these three have done some formidable work in the last season for their respective sides. Pereira got local talents like Liston Colaco, Aaren D'Silva and Princeton Rebello, Singto managed a falling ship under Rene Meulensteen and then David James and Pasha has seen two victorious campaigns in the last three years.

Another name that comes in the reckoning is FC Pune City's Pradyum Reddy. Reddy has been the heartbeat at Shillong Lajong and Bengaluru FC during his previous stints, and is known to have an eye for young talent. Reddy will look to stake his claim at a club which is known to flirt with new ideas under the management of Gaurav Modwel. 

All these managers boast of AFC Pro License badges and are at par with any manager, at least on paper. Singto has managed Shillong Lajong for a long time with limited resources and Pereira’s career in Goa and beyond needs no introduction. Pasha, meanwhile, knows the Indian structure better than most, having managed the AIFF Elite Academy before taking up the job at Chennaiyin.

With new doors opening, the ISL is slowly making all the right moves. A longer league structure, an AFC slot, better structure of player contracts and now leniency towards the managerial posts clearly indicate that the league is pulling the right moves and is here to stay. Cheers to positive changes, ISL! 

Published: Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:09 AM IST

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