ISL 2020-21: Mario Rivera ready to return as East Bengal head coach

Rivera says he is ready to come back to India to serve East Bengal.

Mario Rivera took East Bengal to second place in the 2019-20 I-League. - FACEBOOK (@marioriveracoach)

Having shepherded East Bengal to a second-place finish in the 2019-20 season of the I-League, Mario Rivera is ready to return to serve the club.

East Bengal is yet to finalise its head coach following its acquisition by Shree Cement which will make an ISL bid for the upcoming season. Former Serbian international Risto Vidakovic is tipped to be favourite to take over.

“I receive many messages every day from East Bengal fans asking me to come back but at this moment nothing is closed,” Rivera told PTI from Madrid.

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Rivera, who worked as Alejandro Menendez’s deputy for 32 games in 2018-19, was brought in as replacement for the famed Spaniard after they started off the New Year with a hat-trick of losses, including a 1-2 derby debacle. Rivera, in a matter of just seven matches, took the club to second place as East Bengal officials promised to retain him for the 2020-21 season.

‘Always ready’

“I’m always ready to go back to India. My future plans are coaching wherever a club wants me and enjoy every day of my passion,” the 43-year-old said.

Extending best wishes to East Bengal and the supporters to play in the ISL, he said: “For East Bengal fans, I would like to say ‘best wishes for joining in ISL.’ They deserve to play there, because they are the most passionate supporters of Indian football.”

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On East Bengal getting a new investor, he said: “This is not just big news for East Bengal fans but also for Indian football. That should be the best thing for all: East Bengal, ISL and Indian football. Good for everyone.”

East Bengal recently appointed AFC Pro Licence holder Francisco Bruto Da Costa as its assistant coach.

High profile Serbian coach Vidakovic, who spearheaded Ceres-Negros to three titles in the Philippines Football League and captured the ASEAN Zonal championship in the 2017 AFC Cup, has learnt to have expressed his interest to join East Bengal.

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