Day One of the two-day India Super League players' draft saw some lesser known names get preference over their more famous
Before the Indian Super League draft began yesterday, all the buzz about the lucrative football league was centred around the international players who will ply their trade in India or the national team stalwarts who were the hottest assets in the draft.
(L to R) Owner of Hero Indian Super League football (ISL) franchise Atletico de Kolkata Samarth Parekh along with team members Denzil Franco, Arnab Mondal, Alberto Marrero, (technical staff) and Jose Ramirez Barreto, (official) during a press conference on Day One of the two-day players’ draft in the city yesterday. The Atletico team picked an uncapped Cavin Lobo first-up over some seasoned names. Pic/PTI
However, once the draft began, it was players like Lenny Rodrigues and Cavin Lobo, who stole part of spotlight from these senior India veterans by being among the first picks in the draft.
FC Pune City, which got to select the first player in yesterday's draft, picked 27-year-old Rodrigues ahead of veteran India players like Subrata Paul, Syed Rahim Nabi, Gouramangi Singh and Mehtab Hussain.
The midfielder, who until recently played for Churchill Brothers, has only played 19 matches for the national side.
"I was very happy when I found out that I was the first player to be picked in the draft. I wasn't thinking about what number I would picked in, but I'm very excited," said the Football Players Association of India's Best Indian Player for 2012-2013.
"I'm looking forward to playing with the international players. I want to win every match and help my team win the ISL. I also aspire to play in an European country," he added.
Meanwhile, Lobo, who has not played for India yet, was another surprise pick. The 26-year-old, who is on loan from East Bengal, was pinching himself at the news of being snapped up early by Atletico de Kolkata.
Lenny Rodrigues (left) was picked by FC Pune City & Cavin Lobo was drafted in by Atletico de Kolkata
"I knew that I would be picked but I didn't know that I was one of the top picks in the league until some journalist called me. It was very surprising," said the reticent midfielder, who now wants to don the India jersey.
Subrata Paul (Mumbai), Mehtab Hussain (Kerala), Harmanjot Khabra (Bengaluru) and Francisco Fernandes (Delhi) were the other top picks. The second part of the domestic player draft will happen today with another 42 players up for grabs while the international players' draft is in August.
The Goa franchise and North East United FC will not be part of the domestic players' draft as they retained players from their local ancillary I-League clubs Dempo FC and Shillong Lajong FC respectively.
In the IPL auction, every player started with a base price and interested teams then tried to outbid each other to land the player.
However, in the ISL draft, lots were drawn to decide the order in which each team get to pick the players. Each team then picked one player and will have to pay the player his base price.
After one round is over, the order for picking players is reversed.