Taisuke Matsuygae’s match-winning qualities with Mumbai FC (MFC) are well known to those who followed the I-League last season. A livewire in midfield, the Japanese’s hunger and creativity made him a threat to rival coaches. A couple of goals last season — an audacious free-kick from behind the centreline against Pune FC and a diving header off Mohd. Rafi’s pass into the Bharat FC net — bore the stamp of class, equal to any goal scored in the ISL. Mumbai FC tried to attract Mumbai City FC's interest in the Japanese, but efforts ran into a wall.
Sony Norde’s dynamism in the Mumbai City frontline and Dudu Omagbemi’s strike rate for FC Goa (FCG) in this season’s ISL will hopefully alert foreign coaches and Indian support staff into looking closely at I-League performers at the time of team formation. Norde is from Haiti and made his mark as a match-winner for Mohun Bagan. Nigerian Dudu was drafted in as a replacement for an injured player by FCG, where Brazil legend Zico is head coach.
Taisuke feels Asian footballers are not considered worthy. “ISL team managements prefer Europeans, South Americans and Africans. Coaches ignore East Asians for reasons best known to them.”
Japan and South Korea are ranked high in FIFA’s list (48 and 50 respectively in the men’s category) and players from both nations figure in top European leagues.
Zico has a following in the J-League, Japan’s national league, and also coached the World Cup squad. Taisuke feels that fans in the country have been critical of the Brazilian ever since the 2006 tournament. “Zico will always be revered as a player. But the Japanese are angry with him as a coach,” said Taisuke. “He received full support from the Japanese federation (Japan FA) for the World Cup. However, when the team finished bottom of its group, he criticised the players saying they lacked toughness. The people are angry because he had a major voice in selection matters, and chose his own set of skillful players.”
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