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ISL player draft: Teams spend big on defenders, strikers take backseat

Strong bids were made for defensive players in the ISL player draft on Sunday. Many teams focused on strengthening their backline first before choosing attacking players.

football Updated: Jul 23, 2017 19:36 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Indian Super League,ISL,ISL player draft
India goalkeeper Subrata Paul was Jamshedpur’s second pick after choosing defender Anas Edathodika.(PTI)

No sooner had the draft for the 2017 Indian Super League (ISL) kicked off than debutants Jamshedpur FC wasted little time in picking defender Anas Edathodika, who played for Delhi Dynamos last season.

The trend of strengthening the defense was witnessed during the initial rounds of the Indian player draft, as teams made strong bids for goalkeepers, defensive midfielders and defenders here on Sunday.

India goalkeeper Subrata Paul was Jamshedpur FC’s second pick, while their choice of defensive midfielder Mehtab Hossain, soon after securing Paul, left no doubt that they wanted the best men in the backline. Another midfielder-cum-defender Souvik Chakrabarti was their fourth pick.

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Steve Coppell, the former Kerala Blasters coach, reasoned that with most teams building from scratch, it was always good to build from the back. And, with Jamshedpur starting from scratch, that was the safest option.

“Every team is built from the back. You have to have that stability and foundation secured for rest of the team to perform. I’m sure, the thinking of every coach here today is about the same. It (choosing defenders) doesn’t guarantee anything, or how the players would perform. But we have got some solid players,” said Coppell on the sidelines of the draft.

Delhi Dynamos, who like Jamshedpur FC were starting afresh after deciding not to retain any of their players, chose goalkeeper Albino Gomes, who had a terrific season with I-League winners Aizawl FC. Their second pick was India right-back Pritam Kotal.

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FC Goa picked India right-back Narayan Das. Bengaluru FC got their goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte, whom they had released after deciding to enter ISL, back. Kerala Blasters got defender Rino Anto.

Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC’s first picks were striker Balwant Singh and winger Halicharan Narzary. But their next picks were goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya and defender Nirmal Chhetri, respectively.

Atletico de Kolkata were the only ones who bucked the trend, and went ahead with shoring their attacking options. They first swooped in on the best creative midfielder in the country --- Eugeneson Lyngdoh -- even though he was priced at Rs. 1.10 crore. And they splashed R49 lakh on forward Jayesh Rane, who played for Aizawl in the I-League. Later in the draft, they took on board India forward Robin Singh for Rs. 65 lakh.

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Of the 205 players listed in the draft, 134 were sold, with teams spending a total of Rs. 37.38 crore. The figure touches Rs. 48.85 crore when the salaries of the players retained by the clubs are taken into account.

Newcomers Jamshedpur FC, with a total spending of Rs. 4.72 crore, were the highest spenders in the draft, while FC Goa spent the least amount --- Rs. 2.59 crore.

First Published: Jul 23, 2017 19:36 IST