The FC Goa assistant opens up ahead of the new season of the Indian Super League.
The first three seasons of Indian Super League were more entertainment and brand-building as it was seen that the franchisees had signed veteran marquee players like Robert Pires, Roberto Carlos, Fredrik Ljungberg, Lucio and Florent Malouda who were well past their prime. However, for the upcoming season, clubs have already completed their foreign recruitment and compared to the last three seasons clubs have roped in more young and talented players than famous names.
Part 1 of the interview – We have picked players who will fit into our system and style of play- Derrick Pereira
Goan powerhouse FC Goa are one of the teams who have bet big on Indian youngsters supplementing them with some interesting overseas stars. The Gaurs’ new assistant manager and Head of Youth Development Derrick Pereira spoke exclusively to Khel Now’s Goa Correspondent Ravish Narvekar, looking ahead to the new season and elaborating on their recruitment policy.
When asked about his opinion on the ISL clubs having matured in these three years in terms of their approach in the domestic and foreign market and their knowledge of players Pereira said, “There are different coaches and their different styles. So I cannot say what they have done is wrong or right because they have done it according to their planning and in terms of achieving better results this season. The only thing I can say is that now clubs are looking for more quality than fame in foreign players as well as in Indian players. They are also focused on grassroots and their development programs. So, all I can say is that they are focusing on Indian football.”
The ISL has extended to 10 teams from this season. Former I-League champions Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC have joined the fray with the other eight teams. With two teams added, the league is also set to extend for at least six to seven months. Pereira is happy to see more teams in the league, while he is also delighted to see a longer season as he believes that a longer season will see more quality football from the players.
“We need to have more teams to get more players on board and improve their abilities. It will help our football system in terms of quality. Now, we have ten teams and each team can pick 15 domestic players so in the near future if more teams come in we can get more Indian players who will get a stage to perform.”
He continued, “The longer season is better for Indian football. Previous ISL seasons were cramped up in just three months. There were many coaches and players who used to complain about fatigue issues. But, now that it has extended for more months we will see quality football.”
There was much debate on the draft system with most opposing it. Even some of the top players were disappointed with the ISL’s decision to go with the player draft system but Pereira thinks that it was necessary to go with the draft system for this season because there were new teams added to the league and to balance their squad it was important.
“I think this season’s draft was held due to the inclusion of two new teams. They wanted to balance all the teams and see that the new teams are not left behind in terms of players. I personally think that there should a window to sign at least a few more players instead of choosing the whole team from the draft. I hope in the near future there will be direct signings.”
Talking about the team build-up and the pre season trip the assistant coach said, “Team building is very important and right from day we havehave to know what our aims for the season are. We have looked at different angles in the pre-season like communication, understanding on the pitch, different styles of play and got everybody thinking together as a team. So, it was very important to have a very good pre-season to see that the team settled down as early as possible.
When asked about his expectations from the team Pereira said the prioritity will be to finish in the top four positions and qualify for the playoffs,”
A year-long contract is no more the trend in Indian football. Even the ISL clubs have started to think about long term plans. The Goan club has signed head coach Sergio Lobera to a two-year deal. Talking about the same Pereira said, “The owners and the management always believe in long-term and that is the reason I am here with the development squad. They are looking at the grassroots and development so that in near future we can have our own players. Our focus is for the long-term and in the near future you will see more Goan players playing in the top division.”
The ISL is three seasons old but there is set to be only Indian manager in the league this season. However, the most experienced coach in Indian football, Pereira believes that the scenario will change soon.
“There will be Indian coaches dominating in the near future but as of now, I think Indian football needs experts who will promote it well. Of course, the Indian coaches are of good calibre to handle any pressure but I personally think that as of now we are lacking in professionalism which European and other foreign coaches bring to Indian football,” he signed off.