The Red Machines chief also expressed her frustration at the  scraping the Federation Cup…

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has recently increased foreign players’ quota in the I-League. As per the new rule announced on 1st August, now a club will be allowed to sign six foreign players out of which two should be from an AFC member association. The changes also mean that a club can field a maximum of five foreign players in a match out of which at least one player has to be from an AFC member association.

However, there was disagreement among some of I-League clubs about the AIFF’s decision to extend the foreign players’ quota. Churchill Brothers CEO Valanka Alemao also has a similar viewpoint on this issue but she said it won’t affect them as they are going to field more local players.

“I am here to promote Indian football and especially Goan football. I am not saying it is a good or a bad decision, but it was an issue in the I-League committee. After agreeing on nine other points there was a big discussion and disagreement on this topic. We (club owners) were kind of fighting on this topic. So, I said why are we fighting when we are working for unity. Then we agreed to it only when it was confirmed that this (new rule for foreign players) will be only for this season. For us, it does not make much difference as we are going to field local talents as much as possible. Even our last season’s squad was filled with mostly Goan players. If you want Indian football to grow then six foreigners will not work. It is okay for a season when we are going through a transition but for future, it can be harmful.” Alemao said speaking exclusively to Khel Now.

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She further added, “I am not against foreigners playing the league but my only concern is they should not outnumber Indian players. Earlier quota (3+1) of foreigners was fair enough for the league. There should be a limit for everything.”

It is also understood that the federation is planning to scrap the 40-year-old Federation Cup and start with a new cup which will comprise of the top four teams from the Indian Super League and the I-League. Churchill Brothers have cold memories of the Federation Cup as they were not allowed to participate in the 2014-15 edition despite being the champions in the last edition and also the Cup was being played in Goa, the home of the Red Machines. However, CEO Alemao refused to comment on the AIFF’s plans and said, “I better not say anything on it. I am not a part of the federation and they know what is required for the betterment of Indian football but if you ask me, I believe in legacy. I don’t believe in scraping legacy and it will be sad to see it. We have been Federation Cup winners and we know what the Federation Cup is but I cannot comment on something that I am not part of,”

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The Goan club was back in the I-League last season after a gap of three years; however, the decision was taken just two weeks before the start of the league, making it difficult for the club to build their team. But this year, the Varca-based club has already started the necessary preparation for the league. The club has already contacted Ghanaian coach Edward Ansah for the position of head coach. Lastast season’s target Joseph Afusi is also on the radar of the club. 

“Last season we formed the team in just two weeks but this season we have got more time. So, we are looking to build a strong side for the I-League. We have already contacted Edward Ansah for the head coach position. He was with us in the 1998-99 season as a goalkeeper. He is a pro license coach and has already worked with the Ghana national team. Even Joseph Afusi is on our radar but certain decisions are taken by my father (Churchill Brothers owner), so the final decision will be taken by himm” The Goan club’s CEO said.

The club has also started recruiting players. They have signed their former Ghanaian striker Yusif  Yakubu for the Goa Pro League. Yakubu was signed by Churchill back in 2000, this was his first senior team. He is one of the all-time top scorers in Indian league and has scored 100 goals in the top tier of Indian football. Though he’s glory days are in the past, the decision of signing him back at the age of 40 can backfire due to his fitness levesl However, the club has other plans.

Yakubu has been one of the finest foreign imports into the I-League

“Yakubu has signed for us so that he can show that he can perform at the age of 40. Certain decisions are being taken by my father and Yakubu is just not a 40-year-old player for Churchill Brothers. Even I had several discussions with my father about how a 40-year-old can play but than again, he has given his everything to us in his glory days. So, it is fair enough to give him a chance. He himself has asked for a chance to prove himself in the Goa Pro League,” Alemao said

Most of Churchill Brothers’ players have been signed by Indian Super League (ISL) clubs and some by other I-League clubs, but despite having the disadvantage of losing key players to other clubs; the CEO  is happy to see that the players are getting a bigger stage to show their talent.

“Churchill Brothers’ ideology is that we don’t buy heroes, we make heroes. Last year, we were the only club from Goa in the I-league. So, I believe that we have given the stage to players to show their talents. I am delighted to see that our entire team is taken, most of by ISL clubs and some by other I-League clubs. It’s like, if you perform well you will always get the rewarded but at end of the day you need a stage to perform and Churchill Brothers has given them that last season.” Alemao signed off.