ISL teams rue losing key players, time to rework strategies
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ISL teams rue losing key players, time to rework strategies

Many Indian Super League teams wanted to buy players they had with them in previous seasons, but were foiled in their attempts by rival clubs.

football Updated: Jul 23, 2017 20:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
ISL,Indian Super League,2017–18 Indian Super League season
Sunil Chhetri will have to without with former colleague Eugeneson Lyngdoh who has been bought by ATK.(AFP)

“I will miss Eugene.”

Sunil Chhetri’s brief statement summed up the strategies teams employed during the 2017 Indian Super League (ISL) player draft held in Mumbai on Sunday.

The teams were looking for continuity --- to retain as many players as possible from the previous season --- but they couldn’t implement it, partially or wholly.

Bengaluru FC, who had built their squad over the last four years, had to let go of many of their quality players and one of them was creative midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who, with Chhetri, formed a solid partnership for the club as well as for India.

While Bengaluru FC retained Chhetri, they had to part with Lyngdoh as their former coach Ashley Westwood --- now Atletico De Kolkata technical director--- sniffed an opportunity and bought him.

READ | Atletico Madrid deal over, will still be called ATK in ISL 2017: Sanjiv Goenka

Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca wasn’t happy with the situation but had to come to terms with it. “I’m not happy with the players that had to leave. Eugene and others were important players for us. It’s impossible to keep all the players with the process. We knew, with the draft, it would be impossible to get all those players. We are happy what we have signed and let’s see what happens,” said Spaniard Roca.

Bengaluru weren’t the only team to face disappointment. Chennaiyin FC, co-owned by Abhishek Bachchan, were interested in bringing back midfielder Harmanjot Khabra and forward Jayesh Rane --- picked in the draft by Bengaluru FC and Atletico respectively --- to their fold and even used both their instant trading cards but were unsuccessful.

“We wanted to keep our squad from last season as much as possible as we had immense faith in them. Two players unfortunately we couldn’t retain. We are happy with the new guys and will look forward to working with them. Coach John Gregory was very keen on continuity,” said Bachchan.

READ | ISL Player Draft: Eugeneson Lyngdoh leads Bengaluru FC players’ beeline to ATK

Delhi Dynamos, who started afresh, were looking to buy back former players---– midfielders Souvik Chakrabarti and Milan Singh --- in the draft but weren’t successful.

Atletico’s Westwood said, “With two more teams coming into the fray, the competition to get players has increased. We were ready with plan A, B and C in case we didn’t get the players we wanted. We are happy to get Eugeue, who is one of the best in the country.”

FC Goa and NorthEast United FC focused on bringing onboard players from their region, and they didn’t go home disappointed.

First Published: Jul 23, 2017 20:22 IST