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Sporting cruising Clube class

So, when Sporting Clube de Goa elevated Gaonkar from technical director to head coach for the upcoming season in June this year eyebrows were raised and the predictions of the team fighting a relegation battle were made by all and sundry, reports Abhijeet Kulkarni.

football Updated: Dec 03, 2008 23:49 IST

Just a year ago, Vishwas Gaonkar was languishing in relative obscurity, coaching a bunch of talented teenagers in Sesa Football Academy, and no one even gave him an outside chance to rub shoulders with the first division coaches in the country.

Like international club soccer, the appointment of coaches in India is also based on star power of the individual; ask Mohun Bagan who paid a substantial sum to get Karim Bencherifa from Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar courted Subhash Bhowmick when they were staring relegation last year.

So, when Sporting Clube de Goa elevated Gaonkar from technical director, the post he took over in December last year, to head coach for the upcoming season in June this year eyebrows were raised and the predictions of the team fighting a relegation battle were made by all and sundry.

But eleven matches into the second I-league, Goankar has not only managed to keep the team together but has also taken the Club on the top of the standings with eight wins from 11 outings. The team now sits pretty on the top with 25 points as against 21 of second place Mohun Bagan.

“Even I was not sure (when I took over) what course our campaign will go as I had little experience in the top flight,” admitted Gaonkar looking back at the campaign so far.

“I had been with the team since December (2007) and had told myself that the first target was to instill self confidence in the boys,” he told Hindustan Times over phone.

Sporting Clube failed to make a mark in the inaugural I-league last season and when Hindustan Times had spoken to the players the lack of self-belief after the departure of their charismatic striker Dudu Omagbemi was evident. The Nigerian had left to ply his trade in Europe after five successful seasons in which they ended runners-up once.

“The Durand Cup changed all this for us. I made the players realise that each of them can become the next Dudu and the performance there (Sporting lost in the semis) gave them the much needed confidence,” Gaonkar added.

Sporting Clube began their I-league campaign with three straight wins but a 3-0 loss against Churchill Brothers in the fourth round looked like an end of their honeymoon period.
Just a year ago, Vishwas Gaonkar was languishing in relative obscurity, coaching a bunch of talented teenagers in Sesa Football Academy, and no one even gave him an outside chance to rub shoulders with the first division coaches in the country.

Like international club soccer, the appointment of coaches in India is also based on star power of the individual; ask Mohun Bagan who paid a substantial sum to get Karim Bencherifa from Churchill Brothers and Salgaocar courted Subhash Bhowmick when they were staring relegation last year.

So, when Sporting Clube de Goa elevated Gaonkar from technical director, the post he took over in December last year, to head coach for the upcoming season in June this year eyebrows were raised and the predictions of the team fighting a relegation battle were made by all and sundry.

But eleven matches into the second I-league, Goankar has not only managed to keep the team together but has also taken the Club on the top of the standings with eight wins from 11 outings. The team now sits pretty on the top with 25 points as against 21 of second place Mohun Bagan.

“Even I was not sure (when I took over) what course our campaign will go as I had little experience in the top flight,” admitted Gaonkar looking back at the campaign so far.

“I had been with the team since December (2007) and had told myself that the first target was to instill self confidence in the boys,” he told Hindustan Times over phone.

Sporting Clube failed to make a mark in the inaugural I-league last season and when Hindustan Times had spoken to the players the lack of self-belief after the departure of their charismatic striker Dudu Omagbemi was evident. The Nigerian had left to ply his trade in Europe after five successful seasons in which they ended runners-up once.

“The Durand Cup changed all this for us. I made the players realise that each of them can become the next Dudu and the performance there (Sporting lost in the semis) gave them the much needed confidence,” Gaonkar added.

Sporting Clube began their I-league campaign with three straight wins but a 3-0 loss against Churchill Brothers in the fourth round looked like an end of their honeymoon period.