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‘Two simultaneous leagues will benefit Indian footballers’

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Vasco (Goa) : Running both the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League simultaneously will help footballers stick to a certain style of play rather then having to adapt to two different modules like before, says FC Goa assistant coach Derrick Pereira, a former India star.

“The thing that is happening now will help Indian footballers. Earlier, when the ISL was followed by the I-League, players used to play under different styles depending on the coach of a team. Now a player knows where he belongs and which style his club wants,” Pereira told IANS in an interview at his residence here.

Having coached Pune FC for four years and then the likes of Salgaocar, DSK Shivajians and most recently Churchill Brothers, Periera has been around for a long time with the I-League before jumping on to the ISL bandwagon.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF), along with Football Sports Development Ltd (FSDL) — the organisers of the ISL — has decided to run the two leagues concurrently from November to April with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) too rubber-stamping the move.

But from the 2018-19 season, one longer league is expected to take shape.

“Both leagues running together will help Indian footballers get more opportunity,” Pereira said. “The players will be clearer about their loyalties and also there won’t be employment problems.”

Pereira, who donned India colours from 1984 to 1991, asserted that the I-League, where he, like many Indian coaches, made a name for himself, will not be affected by the move.

“I think if marketing is done properly and club names like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Aizawl FC are promoted in the right way, visibility should not be a problem,” the 55-year-old said.

Coming to FC Goa, who in the ISL draft held in Mumbai recently spent Rs 255.50 crore to rope in 13 players — seven of them from Goa — Pereira, whose influence over Spanish head coach Sergio Lobera in picking players was evident, said: “We wanted to promote Goan footballers.”

“We have a developmental squad where 85-90 per cent of the players are Goans. So the focus is clear. Also the coach wanted players with certain attributes which suit his style of play. He passed on the message and we worked accordingly.”

Among the 13 players FC Goa picked in the draft, the likes of Seriton Fernandes, Brandon Fernandes, Pratesh Shirodkar, Jovel Martins and Anthony D’Souza were all with Pereira in the I-League when he was with Churchill Brothers last season.

On the foreign players’ front, the 2015 ISL runners-up, according to Pereira, would not break the bank for a big name. From this season of the ISL, having a marquee player in the squad is no longer compulsory.

“I don’t think we will go for anything lavish and beyond the Rs 12.5 crore cap for foreigners.

“The coach wants players to be playing in a certain way which is to keep the ball on the ground and pass, and he will pick players who are more suited to that style,” Pereira signed off.

IANS

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