East Bengal sought to end its prolonged wait for the I-League title by roping in the man who made an unfancied side like Aizawl FC the champion last season. Khalid Jamil, the man who is credited with bringing out the first champion club of India from North-East following Aizawl’s triumph, made his way to the heartland of Indian football as East Bengal dreamt of replicating the success under him.
I-league was the only title that Jamil’s predecessor, Trevor Morgan, failed to bring home and East Bengal cornered the former Mumbai FC coach to complete its trophy chest. East Bengal, which last won the National Football League (the previous name of I-league) in 2004, had to be content with being the runner-up on four occasions ever since.
While finalising the modalities of the agreement with Jamil, East Bengal signed up three key players from Aizawl FC - Syrian play-maker Mahmoud Al Amna and two players rising from the Mizoram’s youth development system Brandon Vanlalremdika and Lalramchullova. Jamil was initially supposed to sign a two-year contract with East Bengal with his salary running well over Rs. 1 crore. But the coach revealed on Wednesday that he has signed a one-year deal with East Bengal.
Jamil, who initially spoke of extending his stay in Aizawl after guiding the club to I-League glory, said that he changed his mind after a senior East Bengal official convinced him to come to Kolkata. “Once I won the I-League for Aizawl, I thought of taking up the challenge to the next level,” Jamil said about his decision to join East Bengal. “I know East Bengal is big club and there will be lot of pressure but I am looking forward to that challenge,”
With the future of I-League queered by All India Football Federation’s decision to realign the tournaments in a new order and an expanded Indian Super League looking to overcast it, Jamil sounded unperturbed development saying, “football will remain the same, be it ISL or I-league.” Jamil said he was offered the job as an assistant coach in the ISL side Mumbai City FC but the coach said the offer was “not as clear as the one I got in East Bengal.”
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