ISL franchises aim for continuity

Bengaluru FC, which made an entry into the ISL for the first time, tried to retain the nucleus of I-League squad playing under the same name. However, Chief coach Albert Roca expressed mixed emotions about losing Lyngdoh to ATK and signing up others who worked with him last season.

Founder and Chairperson, Indian Super League Neeta Ambani poses for a photo along with ISL clubs key retained players during the player draft 2017 in Mumbai on Sunday.   -  PTI

Kean Lewis’ display upfront last season for Delhi Dynamos earned him attention from Atletico de Kolkata after FC Pune City picked the striker from the draft at Rs 40 lakhs. Kolkata used the Instant Trade card and made its bid at a higher price at the ISL 2017 Indian Draft, featuring 205 players.

Pune did not bite the bait and acquired the services of the young goal-scorer whose combination with Marcelino and Florent Malouda in the offensive zone had made waves.

READ: How the teams fared at the ISL Draft

Other players to attract dual interest were Jayesh Rane (picked by ATK), Rahul Bheke (BFC), Lalhmangalhsanga (ATK), Lalthuammawia Ralte (BFC), Lalrutthara (KBS), Eugeneson Lyngdoh (ATK).

The latter, joint top price at Rs 1.10 crore, is an asset to the Kolkata franchise, as coach Terry Sheringham expalined. “He was our first pick, can run the show and also score goals,” said the Englishman. The India star will team up with former Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood (Technical Director, ATK).

Defender Anas Edathodika, the other draft topper with Lyngdoh at Rs 1.10 crore, went to Jamshedpur FC. The ISL debutant side, owned by Tata Steel and running the Tata Football Academy, also bagged Subrata Paul, priced at Rs 87 Lakhs.

“I’m happy to be back in Jamshedpur,” remarked the India goalkeeper, who graduated from TFA. Chief coach Steve Coppell was delighted to renew ties with midfielder Mehtab Hoosain. “He is the devil you know. We have foreigners lined up whose selection will depend on the Indians picked up in the draft.”

READ: FC Pune City to focus on young players

Bengaluru FC, making an entry into the ISL for the first time, tried to retain the nucleus of I-League squad playing under the same name. Chief coach Albert Roca expressed mixed emotions about losing Lyngdoh to ATK and signing up others who worked with him last season.

“We went for him in the Instant Trade but did not work out. There is disappointment at missing players from the I-League group, but happy at being able to keep others (goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte, midfielder Lenny Rodrigues).” Sunil Chhetri said: “Nothing changes on the pitch, we played to win in I-League and we will play to win in ISL.”

India captain Chhetri, retained by BFC, felt that Lyngdoh will be missed. “I will wish him all the best,” he said. Chennaiyin FC management also made an effort to keep last season’s squad together under a new coach in John Gregory.

Jayesh Rane and  Harmanjot Khabra, members from a champion squad, will move to ATK and BFC respectively this season, but not before an attempt to buy them back, via Instant Trade was made. Abhishek Bachchan, Chennaiyin co-owner, explained: “We believe in family first. There is a sense of continuity and we made an attempt to retain both of them.”

Gregory, taking over from Marco Materazzi for the first time in ISL, agreed with Bachchan’s view. “Jeje Lalpekhlua was retained from last year in keeping with the same thinking. I hope to build on the unity, with support from fans.”

North-East United FC co-owner, John Abraham, spoke more specifically of playing with talent from north-east.” Prominent names in NEUFC are Lalrindika Ralte, Holicharan Narzary, Nirmal Chhetri, Reagen Singh, Robert Lalthamuana, to name a few.

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