The Sunday’s Hero Indian Super League 2017-18 Indian Player Draft promises to be an exciting affair as the footballing minds of the ten ISL Clubs would put their strategy into action in a bid to seek signatures of some of the best domestic players.
All ten ISL clubs have completed their respective international head coach signings. Assisted by the Indian coaches, the Head Coach will represent their respective clubs at the team table at the ISL Player Drafts 2017.
Contrary to the notion, the Indian Player Draft 2017 has suddenly assumed importance as many top Indian International Players are now available for the ‘Super Sunday’ signing. Thanks to Delhi Dynamos opting not to retain any domestic players, while FC Pune City letting go of experienced boys for young keeper Vishal Kaith – the ISL Player Draft has opened up with interesting names.
The ISL mandate of maximum two player retention also ensured all clubs especially the new entrant Jamshedpur FC gets a level playing field.
Best National & Promising Talents
Not surprisingly, the addition of experienced National players like Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Anas Edathodika, Thoi Singh, Rino Anto, Jackichand Singh, Pritam Kotal, Robin Singh, Subrata Pal, Mehtab Hussain and many more are the key attractions of the Player Draft.
On other hand the Player Draft also offers wide variety of young promising talents like Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mawhmingthanga (Jerry), Rohit Kumar, Mohammad Yasir, Lalthakima, Sukhadev Patil, Farukh Haji Kasam Choudhary, Subhasish Bose, Germanpreet Singh, Lalrempuia Fanai.
The Indian Player Draft also highlights names of relatively unknown budding footballers Umesh Perambra, Akshay Joshy and Ajith Sivan who caught the eyes of AIFF Scouts during the Reliance Foundation Youth Sports school & college football championship.
Demand for Indian Keepers
It is expected that the goalkeepers would be the preferred picks in the early rounds as four clubs – Bengaluru FC, Kerala Blasters FC, Delhi Dynamos and Jamshedpur FC would like to fill this position which has assumed importance for the Indian Goalkeepers due to League’s new rule of increasing Indian players in starting XI to 6. With less international players on field, Clubs have changed their strategy to focus more on having an Indian keeper. Mumbai City FC, NorthEast United, Chennaiyin FC, FC Pune City, Atletico de Kolkata and FC Goa have taken the opportunity of the retention rules in securing their goalkeepers first.
Experienced Arindham Bhattacharja, Subrata Paul and Albino Gomes lead the list of 30 goalkeepers in the Player Draft. Each club is mandated to have 3 goalkeepers in the squad.
Club Strategy Prediction
A close look at eight of the ten clubs who have made the best use of retention window early this month offers a sneak peek to their formation approach and what they could possibly be looking at in the Draft for Indian players.
Atletico de Kolkata
The two time champions have retained Debjit Majumdar (goalkeeper) and Prabir Das (full back) and will enter the Draft in the third round. They have a minimum 13 players to pick including two U21. ATK has new Technical Director in Ashley Westwood and a new Head Coach Teddy Sheringham. Ashley having coached Bengaluru FC and worked with the best of Indian players earlier, understands Indian football, players and conditions and is likely to be leading the charge on Sunday.
Ashely likes to have a packed defence and hence would probably keep foreign players in central defence and would also look at a foreign holding midfielder. At the Draft, the Englishman will look at Indian players for outside and central midfield positions. It won’t be surprising to see if he goes for the former Bengaluru FC players.
Kerala Blasters FC
Kerala Blasters have missed being ISL champions twice – both times against ATK. 2016 was the best display by the club under Steve Coppell. However, the club this time will be coached by Rene Meulensteen. They have retained CK Vineeth in striker position and Sandesh Jingham in central defence.
With a new coach and not having singed any international players yet, it’s difficult to predict what strategy the club will go with on Sunday. But they could be out in market to sign best of Indian players available starting Round 3 and look for foreign players later according to the positions left in the formation.
Though this is the debut year in ISL but they aren’t new to Indian football, having dominated the landscape for the last 3 years. Coached by Albert Roca, BFC has gone for the outfield players in retaining country’s best striker Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh showcasing that they are probably working on a different strategy compared to others. Entering in Round 3, however one would assume they will look at securing one of the top three goalkeeper first.
BFC has already singed foreign players for central defence positions – they will be looking at the full back and wingers at the draft.
The 2015 finalist have a new coach in Sergio Rodriguez. FC Goa have retained goalkeeper Laxmikanth Katimani (keeper) and Mandar Rao Desai (left winger) and have already registered 3 foreign players for centre positions. The Goan side will now look at completing the wide positions ie full back and wingers through the Indian players’ draft. They are looking at creative young players and it won’t be surprising if the club think-tank stay away from big spending in the draft.
FC Pune City
The club is looking at a complete overhaul. Continuing with their coach Antonio Habas for second season, FC Pune City surprised the football fans when they retained only a young keeper in Vishal Kaith as against some of the national players in their rank. Habas believes in defensive Indian players and foreigners upfront. At the Draft, Habas is likely to go for full backs and defensive midfield Indians, while keeping the creative positions ie wingers and striker for international players. Pune will entre in Round 2 of Draft.
The 2015 champions have done well by retaining their main striker Jeje and goalkeeper Kamaljit. Chennaiyin FC will probably look at having international players in centre pitch and Indians on the wide. They will be keen to have Indians at full backs and wingers.
Chennai will enter in Round 4 of the draft – having retained a capped U21 player Jerry. It will be interesting to see how the clubs transition take placed from Marco Materazzi to John Gregory.
Delhi Dynamos FC
It’s a new beginning for Delhi. From change in ownership to changing the entire squad, for Delhi ISL season 4 is no less than the first year of the league. They are the only club along with Jamshedpur FC to feature from Round 1 of the Draft and is expected to go all out for best Indian talents. It will be surprising if they don’t sign up a goalkeeper in the first pick.
New in ISL but not new to Indian football, the Tata Steel owned club probably has the best knowledge of Indian player talents considering their legacy of nurturing and producing players for decades. Coached by an experienced Steve Coppell, Jamshedpur FC have the opportunity to pick first in the first two round, and are likely to go for central defender and a goalkeeper immediately. Coppell might also bring in his tried and tested international players who were part of Kerala Blasters previous season. This club is to watch out for.
NorthEast United FC
Northeast United flavour has always been the local talent from the region. However, considering NorthEast players not being very tall, the club has always rallied on big and strong skilful players from international market to fill in centre pitch. At draft, NorthEast will look at Indians on out wide. NorthEast having retained goalkeeper and a centre midfielder, will enter in Round 3.
Mumbai City FC
Mumbai is the second club other than Pune to have retained their coach. Mumbai is likely to continue with international players in the attacking upfront. At the Draft, the club from maximum city will try to notch Indians at full back, holding defensive midfield and centre back. Mumbai will enter the draft in round 3.
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