Bengaluru FC retains Chhetri, Udanta

BFC, a new entrant to the ISL, has now applied the rule of a maximum of two retentions for Indian players over the age of 21.

Chhetri (left) has been with Bengaluru for four seasons, finishing top scorer for the Blues every year.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Bengaluru FC (BFC) has retained skipper Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh on three-year deals that will keep them with the Indian Super League (ISL) side until the end of the 2019-20 season, the club announced on
Friday.

BFC, a new entrant to the ISL, has now applied the rule of a maximum of two retentions for Indian players over the age of 21.

BFC Chief Technical Officer Mandar Tamhane stated, "We cannot retain any more Indian players over the age of 21. The rules are clear, so we don’t want to ask for exceptions."

When BFC was competing in the I-League, it had loaned players like C.K. Vineeth, Rino Anto and Eugeneson Lyngdoh to ISL clubs. In such cases, the players could be retained by the rival clubs. “If a BFC player has represented an ISL club in the past, that ISL club can choose to retain the player. If they decide not to retain them, then we have a chance to pick them from the draft. Ideally, the player should get to decide which club he wants to represent. But that is not the case, as it is the clubs which have the upper hand,” he said.

The foreign footballers - Englishman John Johnson, for example - will not be a part of the draft. BFC can, therefore, sign them to the squad through normal procedure. “We will make an announcement on our foreign players in a few days. The contracts have not been signed yet," Tamhane said.

BFC is not keen on signing a marketable marquee name, in the form of an aging star who is past his prime. “Performance is the only criteria for us,” he said.

Tamhane spoke about the tough decisions that the club management has had to make. “We are thrilled to retain a fantastic duo in Chhetri and Udanta, but at the same time, this is a very difficult phase for us. We want to keep our full squad, but it is not possible. It is tough to keep your emotions aside when you have to leave players out," he said.

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