Experienced footballers Sandip Nandy, Climax Lawrence, N P Pradeep and Steven Dias were among the home-grown stars picked on day two of the domestic players draft for the Indian Super League, here today. A total of 84 players were on offer in the two-day draft process that concluded today.
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) Seated: Dharmaraj Ravanan, Mehtab Hossain, Syed Rahim Nabi,. Steven Dias and Climax Lawrence. Standing: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Nirmal Chettri, Denzil Franco, Gouramangi Singh, Lenny Rodrigues and Subrata Paul.
Former India goalkeeper Nandy was among the first from the second lot of 42 players to be chosen today, by Kerala Blasters a team co-owned by cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and coached by successful ex-East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan. Midfielders Lawrence, Dias and Pradeep had to wait till the last few rounds before being picked by Athletico de Kolkata, Delhi Dynamos and Bengaluru respectively.
Among the others to be picked were Sanju Pradhan and Mehrajuddin Wadoo who were chosen by Kolkata and Pune franchises respectively. Several talented youngsters were also picked by the six franchises over the last two days while two other franchises Goa and North East FC announced their pickings done prior to the draft - after each round. The first lot of 42 players was picked on day one of the draft yesterday.
The player pool was a mix of seasoned, experienced senior national players and promising young talents from across the country. In terms of playing positions, ISL draft pool had 27 attackers (forwards and wingers), 21 midfielders, 26 defenders and 10 goalkeepers. It also included 30 players on loan from four I-League clubs, as well as free agents who have been centrally contracted. ISL has also made provision of additional seven players in the Central Reserve Pool to serve as future replacements in case of injuries or other emergencies. Speaking to reporters, Dias said he was very excited to be playing for Delhi. "I have always enjoyed playing in Delhi during the Nehru Cup and Durand Cup," he said. He also said that the ISL will help Indian footballers "get to know where we belong and to learn from international footballers".
Lawrence, on free transfer from Goa, will be back playing in Kolkata where he had played for I-League clubs before and said ISL needed experienced players too. "There will be international players too. I am looking forward to the kick off," he said. Current international Gouramangi Singh, picked yesterday by Sun Group-owned Bengaluru franchise, said he was very happy that he would be playing in the IPL-style event.
"A lot of people and a lot of my friends are waiting for ISL to kick off. I am not saying ISL is going to change everything in Indian football. But it's a big step and we are on the right track," he said. Mehtab Hossain, picked by Kerala Blasters yesterday and a big fan of Tendulkar, said he would try and talk to his idol about injury comebacks. "I am proud to be in Sachin's team. He's my idol. I will try and learn about injury comebacks if I get a chance to talk to him," he said. Tendulkar suffered a number of injuries and also underwent a few surgeries during his glittering 24-year international career that ended last November. Both players hailed the hiring of Morgan as the team coach, saying the Australian knew how exactly they played and was very good at man management.
Sun Group's Chief Information Officer Ananth Nagarajan said that the Bengaluru franchise and Bengaluru FC, the I-League champions, would form a joint venture in the near future. "I can't put a time frame," he said. Asked whether the draft was less exciting than the players' auction, he said, "Draft is more predictable than the auction". Sun Group also owns the Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL franchise. The international players' draft would be held next month featuring 49 players.
Delhi Dynamos FC: Adil Khan, Manish Bhargav, Govin Singh, Jagroop Singh, Steven Dias, Anwar Ali, Manandeep Singh, Francis Fernandes, Robert Lalthamuana, Naoba Singh, Shylo Malswamtluanga, Shouvik Ghosh, Shouvik Chakraborty, Munmun Lugun
Atletico de Kolkata: Sanju Pradhan, Kinshuk Debnath, Lester Fernandes, Subhasish Roychowdhury, Baljit Sahni, Climax Lawrence, Mohanraj Nallappan, Cavin Lobo, Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco, Rakesh Masih, Mohammed Rafique, Mohammed Rafi, Biswajit Saha
Team Bengaluru: Abhishek Das, Jayesh Rane, Abhijit Mondal, Anthony Barbosa, Dane Pereira, NP Pradeep, Jaison Vales, Harmanjot Khabra, Dhanachandra Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Gouramangi Singh, Shilton Paul, Denson Devadas, Khelemba Meitei
Kerala Blasters FC: Avinabo Bag, Sandip Nandy, CS Sabeeth, Luis Barreto, Milagres Gonsalves, Ramandeep Singh, Renedy Singh, Mehtab Hussain, Sandesh Jhingan, Ishfaq Ahmed, Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chettri, Sushant Matthew, Godwin Franco
Team Mumbai: Rohit Mirza, Ishan Debnath, Nadong Bhutia, Asif Kottiyal, Peter Costa, Lalrinfela, Sushil Kumar Singh, Subrata Paul, Lalrindika Ralte, Syed Rahim Nabi, Raju Gaikwad, Subash Singh, Ram Malik, Deepak Mondal
Team Pune: Deepak Devrani, Tapan Maity, Arindam Bhattacharya, Anupam Sarkar, Pratik Shinde, Lalit Thapa, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Lenny Rodrigues, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Ashutosh Mehta, Joaquim Abranches, Pritam Kotal, Manish Maithani, Israil Gurung
Team Goa: Mandar Rao Desai, Romeo Fernandes, Peter Carvalho, Holicharan Narzary, Pronay Halder, Prabir Das, Rowlison Rodrigues, Laxmikant Kattimani, Debabrata Roy, Gabriel Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Jewel Raja Shaikh, Alwyn George, Narayan Das
North East United FC: Pritam Kumar Singh, Milan Singh, Robin Gurung, Allen Deory, Redeem Tlang, Seminlen Doungel, David Ngaihte, Kunzang Bhutia, Jibon Singh, Durga Boro, Aibor Khongjee, Zodingliana Ralte, TP Rehnesh, Boithang Haokip